Philosophy of Religion | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Also starting already in classical Greece, two approaches to the teleological argument developed, distinguished by their understanding of whether the natural order was literally created or not. The non-creationist approach starts most clearly with Aristotle, although many thinkers, such as the , believed it was already intended by Plato. This approach is not creationist in a simple sense, because while it agrees that a cosmic intelligence is responsible for the natural order, it rejects the proposal that this requires a "creator" to physically make and maintain this order. The Neoplatonists did not find the teleological argument convincing, and in this they were followed by medieval philosophers such as and . Later, and Thomas Aquinas considered the argument acceptable, but not necessarily the best argument.
An Initial View of Final Causes
The teleological argument assumes that one can infer the existence of intelligent design merely by examination, and because life is reminiscent of something a human might design, it too must have been designed. However, considering "snowflakes and crystals of certain salts", "[i]n no case do we find intelligence". "There are other ways that order and design can come about" such as by "purely physical forces".
The German philosopher disagreed with Newton's view of design in the teleological argument. In the , Samuel Clarke argued Newton's case that God constantly intervenes in the world to keep His design adjusted, while Leibniz thought that the universe was created in such a way that God would not need to intervene at all. As quoted by Ayval Leshem, Leibniz wrote:
According to [Newton's] doctrine, God Almighty wants [i.e. needs] to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise it would cease to move. He had not it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motionLeibniz considered the argument from design to have "only moral certainty" unless it was supported by his own idea of expounded in his . wrote that "The proof from the pre-established harmony is a particular form of the so-called physico-theological proof, otherwise known as the argument from design." According to Leibniz, the universe is completely made from individual substances known as , programmed to act in a predetermined way. Russell wrote:
In Leibniz’s form, the argument states that the harmony of all the monads can only have arisen from a common cause. That they should all exactly synchronize, can only be explained by a Creator who pre-determined their synchronism.
Guide to the Philosophy of Mind - Guide – David Chalmers
Consider, now, the movements of our fingers as we write our essay. While Penfield and his ilk could produce movements of our fingers by inserting electrodes into the cortical motor areas of our brains and discover what goes on in those and other areas of our bodies on those occasions, is there any reason to think that the present movements of our fingers while typing cannot adequately be explained without ultimately invoking a teleological explanation in the form of the purpose for which we chose to move them? It would certainly seem so. After all, these movements seem purposeful to an observer to the extent that they are producing what are (hopefully) intelligible sentences, and from the perspective of our first-person experiences, we remember choosing to write this essay and it now seems to us that we are carrying out our plan to do so. In short, it simply stretches one's credulity to the breaking point to claim that what is presently taking place in our bodies in relationship to the movements of our fingers can be explained without any ultimate or final reference to the teleological explanation of our choice to write this essay. Yet, that is precisely what the naturalist proponent of the argument from causal closure would have us believe. Not only would he have us believe this, however, but also he would have us believe that no events in our bodies (or minds) ultimately occur for a purpose. They cannot, if one assumes the causal closure of the physical world. Given, however, that there is no good reason to think that the practice and progress of science requires causal closedness, there is as of yet no reason to think that naturalism is true.
guide to the philosophy of mind
Before proceeding, it is important to point out that people typically see the disagreement between naturalists and their opponents (whom we will call 'teleologists') about what is an acceptable explanation manifested in the public square in debates about creation versus evolution. The argument in the public square is about whether God should, in popular vernacular, be allowed into the biology class, or whether certain complex phenomena in our physical bodies (e.g., the complex arrangement of parts in organs such as our eyes or in our cells) are indications of purposeful design by a mind (here, one can think of the position advocated by members of the contemporary Intelligent Design movement). According to naturalists, the scientific method (causal closedness) requires that no matter how designed some complex biological organism or organ might appear, it is in principle impermissible to appeal to a teleological explanation of it. What a reader should be aware of, however, is that the argument from causal closure that is used by naturalists to exclude teleological explanations of biological phenomena is the very same argument they use to exclude teleological explanations of the movements of an essayist's fingers on a keyboard. If the argument from causal closedness against the teleologist in the public disputes about evolution versus creation is sound, then it is sound when used against the teleologist in debates about bodily and mental events in our everyday lives. If the argument is no good in the latter realm, then there is no reason to think that it is any good in the former.
Logical Fallacies | The Skeptics Guide to the Universe
The question of how to understand Aristotle's conception of nature having a purpose and direction something like human activity is controversial in the details. for example has argued that in his biology this approach was practical and meant to show nature only being analogous to human art, explanations of an organ being greatly informed by knowledge of its essential function. Nevertheless, Nussbaum's position is not universally accepted. In any case, Aristotle was not understood this way by his followers in the Middle Ages, who saw him as consistent with monotheistic religion and a teleological understanding of all nature. Consistent with the medieval interpretation, in his and other works Aristotle clearly argued a case for their being one highest god or "" which was the ultimate cause, though specifically not the material cause, of the eternal forms or natures which cause the natural order, including all living things. And he clearly refers to this entity having an that humans somehow share in, which helps humans see the true natures or forms of things without relying purely on sense perception of physical things, including living species. This understanding of nature, and Aristotle's arguments against materialist understandings of nature, were very influential in the Middle Ages in Europe. The idea of fixed species remained dominant in biology until Darwin, and a focus upon biology is still common today in teleological criticisms of modern science.