An Historic Defence of William Paley's Teleological Argument

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
While it may remain difficult for the student of modernity to understand the weight of Paley’s teleological arguments for nineteenth century British scientists, the idea of a design in nature and the implication of a designer nevertheless provided lasting explanatory power amongst competing hypotheses until up to Darwin. As Richard Dawkins points out, it was reasonable for English scientists to maintain telic 'causes' in the explanation of biological origins until the observations of Paley were ascribed to a natural mechanism as evidenced by Charles Darwin. When viewed in the light of contemporary debates on the possibility of evolution by natural selection in opposition to purposeful intervention, it is useful, then, to understand clearly why not long ago scientists moved away from this very line of reasoning to accepting the Darwinian picture of “descent with modification” by natural selection. As Bacon was right to point out, the scientific dialogue is dependent on an agreement on method, and this change in reasoning, it seems fair to say, signifies a most important distinction of biological investigation between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that ought not to be neglected by any thoughtful historian of science.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
JAVAHD
Revision history
Archival date: 2013-10-18
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2013-10-18

Total views
118 ( #27,862 of 46,191 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #41,999 of 46,191 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.