wrote the essay The Argument from Design

When dealing with non-deductive inferences, such as inferences to the best explanation, we must ask ourselves how much likelihood or palusibility is conferred upon the conclusion by the premises. If the IBE design argument is strong, then the facts about fine-tuning make the conclusion about an Intelligent Designer highly probable. If the argument is weak, then these facts do not make the Intelligent Design conclusion very probable at all. The key point is that, when dealing with non-deductive arguments, the issue is always one of rather than . Strong, inductive arguments purport to make their conclusions probable. They do not claim to necessitate their conclusions. So, pointing out that they do not necessitate their premises cannot count as an objection against them. The IBE design argument is an inference to the explanation; not an inference to the explanation.

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Hume also argues that there are analogies that are detrimental to belief in a designer. He thinks the analogical design argument correctly notes that we generally infer properties about an artisan or manufacturer from properties we observe in their products. But he claims the argument ignores important facts about our world. For example, from the solid 24 karat gold, diamonds and precision timing of a Rolex watch, one can infer that the manufacturer has the highest commitment to quality. When one is faced with a defective product, one draws analogous but opposite conclusions. For example, I own a Soviet-era military watch with the KGB insignia on its face. At noon and midnight, the two hands of the watch should both be pointing straight up, but there are five degrees of separation between them. Moreover, it gains about eight minutes every day. I have been led to form rather negative conclusions about Soviet-era craftsmanship from the properties of this watch.


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The Design Argument, an essay fiction | FictionPress

The IBE version merely claims that the hypothesis of intelligent design provides the best explanation for those features. In other words, the design argument does not purport to be a deductive argument, in which the truth of the premises necessitates the truth of the conclusion. Instead, it claims to offer a strong non-deductive argument for the hypothesis of intelligent design. Pointing out that the premises of a non-deductive argument do not necessitate its conclusion is like pointing out that Einstein’s general theory of relativity does not explain how to make a great Cabernet. That was never its intended purpose.


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Hume criticizes the Argument from Design in his (best known as his essay on miracles) but his most completeanalysis is in , published shortlyafter his death in 1776.

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In the first section of this essay I will describe the most famous version of the design argument—William Paley’s argument by analogy. Analogical arguments are perhaps the weakest sort of arguments one can offer without committing an outright fallacy. As we will see in section II, the analogical version of the design argument has come in for some heavy fire over the years. A contemporary reformulation of the argument, which I will call the ‘Inference to the Best Explanation’ (IBE) version of the design argument, claims to be able to escape the criticisms that are leveled against the analogical version. The IBE version will be explained in section III. It eschews the analogical form of the first version and uses evidence from contemporary science to back up its claims.

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Remember that even on its own terms the is a work of fiction,in which Pamphilus spends some time defending the use of a dialogue formatbefore telling the story. So why have Pamphilus toss in this comment? Is it a sop to religiousbelievers? Or is Hume perhaps saying that the Argument from Design may have somemerit but is not nearly as conclusive as its proponents tended to believe? Is hesaying that the Argument from Design is a possible interpretation but not theonly one consistent with what we observe?