Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Types of Design Argument

Two Types of Design Argument:

Type I: The Classical (“Old School”) Design Argument:

-This version is an argument from analogy.
-It typically appeals to living organisms and their parts as cases of apparent design

1. Human artifacts are intelligently designed.
2. Living organisms and their parts resemble/are analogous to human artifacts (in that they both are complex and their parts that work together to perform a function).
3. Therefore, probably, living organisms and their parts are intelligently designed as well.

-Paley’s version is the most important version of the classical version of the design argument.
-However, this form of the design argument is seldom used today, due to the criticisms we’ve discussed. However, philosophers have come up with a new version of the design argument:

Type II: The Contemporary (“New School”) Design Argument:

-This version is not an argument from an analogy. Rather, it's formulated either in terms of confirmation theory or an inference to the best explanation.
-According to this version, certain features of the universe are treated as data, and then various hypotheses are offered to explain the data
-It typically appeals to non-living aspects of the universe as cases of apparent design
-The two hypotheses typically proposed are (i) intelligent design and (ii) non-intelligent, natural causes. The argument can then be expressed as follows:

Let ‘D’ denote some range of data that needs explaining. For example:

D: The universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life (i.e., there are a large number of fundamental constants of nature. The value had by each of this is independent of each of the others. Each value is just one among an extremely large range of possible values, and each constant had to be assigned the value it has or no life would have arisen in the universe.)

Let ‘H1’ and ‘H2’ denote competing hypotheses offered to explain D:

H1: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to intelligent design.
H2: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to non-intelligent factors, such as chance and necessity.

Then the argument runs as follows:

1. We’d expect D if H1 were true.
2. We wouldn’t expect D (or at least not as much) if H2 were true.
3. If we’d expect the data if H1 were true more than we would if H2 were true, then H1 is more probable than H2.
4. Therefore, H1 is more probable than H2.


Chad said...

Small quibble: you misrepresent the structure of Paley's argument. See Del Ratzsch's entry on design argument in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

exapologist said...

Hey Chad,

You know, at least every couple of years, I see a new interpetation of Paley's version of the design argument, backed up with exegetical support. So, for example, Behe argues that it's an abductive argument in his Darwin's Black Box (Draper agrees, as does Sober in his 1993 edition of his Phil. of Biology text). I'm not sure which interpretation of his argument genuinely represents it. I attach his name to this formulation of the analogical version primarily because it's fairly common practice in the literature to do so (see, e.g., Rowe's Intro. to Philosophy primer).

I've seen the Ratzsch SEP article you mention, but I'm glad you referenced it. I should re-visit that piece.

Chad said...

Did you catch Oppy’s article, “Paley’s Argument Revisited” in the latest issue of Philosophia Christi (10:2)? He puts forth a pretty good case for thinking Paley’s argument should be understood as deductive.

exapologist said...

Hi Chad,

Thanks for calling that to my attention. I let my subscription lapse, and I haven't yet renewed it. Thanks for calling it to my attention.

Site Meter