RS Theme 1 Philosophy A,B,C


a posteriori

post experience

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derived from the senses 

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Inductive Arguments

a posteriori becuase it depends upon empirical evidence and experience that leads to a possible conclusion 

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Aquinas' first way

  • An object has the potential to change

  • Motion fulfils potential into actuality 

  • Can't be both potential and actual 

  • Movers can not go back infinitely

  • Must be a first mover 

  • God

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Aquinas' second way

  • Something has to be caused by another cause. It can’t cause itself 

  • Infinite regress of causes means there would be no first cause 

  • Therefore if we trace causes back far enough there must be a first cause 

  • The origin of all things must be self-causes 

  • God

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Aquinas' third way

  • World consists of contingent beings, which are temporary and have a possibility of not existing 

  • So at some point there must have been nothing in existence 

  • As there are contingent beings existing now, there must be something non-contingent (necessary being)

  • God 

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Kalam Argument

  • Everything has a cause 

  • The universe has a cause

  • Since there is no scientific explanation can provide a causal account of the origin of the universe, the cause must be personal

  • Only challenge to first mover was infinite regress

  • Craig argued that an actual infinite of temporal events or causes cannot exist 

  • Potential infinite 

  • According to Craig actual infinite is impossible but a potential infinite is possible 

  • Potential infinite confirms First Cause

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Aquinas' fifth way

  • There are things without knowledge that act for ends

  • Must be because it is directed by a being with knowledge and intelligence 

  • There must be an intelligent being by whom natural things within the universe are directed towards their ends

  • God

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Fifth Way Analogy

Just as an archer (intelligent being) aims and directs the arrow (an object without knowlege), the universe also works by natural laws (which in themselves posses no intelligence) and therefore require some intial intelligence for direction 

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William Paley's Anology

  • Paley argued that if you chance upon a watch upon a heath, even if you had never seen a watch before, you would know that this instrument did not happen by chance;it must be something 'made', that is, the result of the work of an intelligent mind
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William Paley's teleological argument

  • Watch analogy

  • All the parts fit together intricately and achieve the purpose of telling time 

  • There has to be a designer because there is no alternative naturalistic explanation

  • The way the universe fits together for a purpose, demands an intelligent designer  

  • God

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Anthropic principle

  • The goal or purpose of the world is beneficical for the flourishing of life 
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Aesthetic Principle

  • The universe exhibits beauty; however, beauty is not necessary feature for our survival. in itself it serves no function other than to satisfy human beings
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Tennant's Design Argument

  • Tennant focused on differnent characteristics evident when observing the world:

Anthropic and Aesthetic 

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The Anthropic Principle

  • Suggests nature provided in advance for the needs of animals and humans 

  • The main benefit from this order and regularity is to sustain life 

  • The precise conditions for this are unbelievably complex and improbable and so appear to be geared specifically towards anthropic existence 

  • There must be more than physical laws to account for the improbability of life. It suggests an ultimate intelligence 

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The Aesthetic Principle

  • The universe is infused with beauty from the microscopic to the macroscopic. however, beauty has no survival value and yet it still exists 

  • No other species reacts to its surroundings in this way

  • The existence of beauty in the world was clear evidence that God exists and even encourages the enquiring mind to discover God

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Hume's objections to the cosmological argument

  • Looking for a first cause is nonsensical 

  • If the universe is eternal or infinite, then the question about cause is irrelevant 

  • He also objected to the idea of applying a principle that belonged to a ‘part’ of the ‘whole’ equally to the whole itself

  • Russell: fallacy of composition

  •  Hume believed that when we explain every part of the universe, we are in fact explaining the whole and there is no need to appeal to anything beyond this 

  • Since we have no experience of creating a universe we cannot talk meaningfully about it 

  • Not enough empirical evidence to argue that the universe had a cause

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Hume: The analogy is inappropriate

  • He argued that scientific view of the universe is very different from a human-made artifact

  • the world being ‘vastly differently from… any object of human experience and observation’

  • The world would appear more organic and not mechanical 

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Hume: There are other possible analogies

  • He argued that ‘the world plainly resembles more an animal or a vegetable than it does a watch or a knitting loom’

  • He suggested that it would be more consistent to compare the world to a carrot

  • The Gaia hypothesis

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Gaia Hypothesis

  • Put forward in the 1970s by James Lovelock supports Hume's criticisms 

  • It suggests that the earth is a self-regulating, complex interaction between organisms and their inorganic surroundings which work together to contain and maintain life

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Hume: The Analogy of the Watch

  • The more the analogy of the man-made machine is emphasised, the more human God becomes

  • The cause ought only to be proportional to the effect, and as the effect is not infinite, so neither have we any reason to ascribe infinity to God

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Hume: It makes God similar to an apprentice god

He suggests that rather than the Christian God, the analogy is better explained by some lame performance by an infant deity, or some inferior and derided deity or even an aged deity

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Hume: There could be a plurality of gods involved

  • He argued strongly that the world did not closely resemble something made by humans 

  • Shipbuilding is a skill,but only a single ship is ‘the result of a process of trial and error’ that involves a history of traditions and skills being passed down 

  • Watchmaking was not a single piece of crafting by one individual

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Hume: Analogy leads to a non-moral or absent God

  • He pointed out that unpleasant features of nature, such as natural disasters and disease raise questions as to the moral character of a God

  • He argued that you cannot attribute to the cause anything more than is sufficient to produce the effect

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Hume: There are other explanations

  • He argued that any universe is bound to have the appearance of design as there could be no universe at all if the parts of it were not mutually adapted to some degree

  • He makes the distinction between authentic design (deliberate design of an agent) and apparent design (an appearance of design where non actually exists)

  • He refers to the Epicurean hypothesis 


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Epicurean Hypothesis

  • Suggests that given time, order will eventually be perceived in the physical world
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Big Bang Theory

  • Often preferred by many as a ‘proof’ that random action caused by the sudden appearance of a singularity (a point in space-time that defies the laws of physics but where infinity exists) can explain the beginning of the universe, not God
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Charles Darwin

  • He demonstrated that order was not necessarily evidence of purpose and design 

  • The theory of evolution suggests that the combination of variation and survival through natural selection lead eventually to the emergence of organisms that are suited to their environment 

  • They will have the appearance of design, but the underlying process is more random and unpredictable

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Richard Dawkins

  • He attacked Paley’s argument by pointing out that a true watchmaker has foresight

  • He designs his cogs and springs and has a future purpose in mind 

  • In contrast, natural selection is blind, unconscious and an automatic process

  • It is a blind watchmaker and God is an unnecessary hypothesis

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