CA83 Hume on the Argument from Design



Today we discuss the evergreen critique of the design argument from David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
Hume’s skepticism is aimed at the inference to a designer on the basis of our observations of natural objects and their analogy to human artifacts. When two objects are similar effects – say a house and another house – we’re on solid footing when we infer a similar cause. To the extent that two objects are similar effects, we have grounds for inferring a similar cause. But as Hume points out, human artifacts and natural objects are not similar effects. Their dissimilarities vastly outnumber any similarities. So, we don’t actually have much ground for inferring a similar cause. Further, inferring a “similar cause” would not lead one to the orthodoxly conceived monotheistic god. We’d be led to an imperfect designer (or designers), finite in their power, knowledge, and goodness.
Hume on the Design Argument [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

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