David Hume and the Argument from Design

By Stewart Sutherland from Philosophy Bites in PHILOSOPHY

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David Hume (7 May1711 – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.

Philo is the hard-headed skeptic who sees paradoxes and inconsistencies in every line of argument, sees alternate interpretations for every observation, and who thus essentially believes nothing can be known for certain. His arguments are most nearly those of the modern skeptic. Hume at times lets him go over the top and express extreme ideas, which are then tempered a bit for the sake of more sensitive readers. Cleanthes is the pragmatic skeptic, who is keenly aware of the limitations of logic and observation but who nevertheless believes our mental picture of sense impressions and logical inferences is too real to dismiss entirely. It is Cleanthes who articulates the Argument From Design.

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Sept. 23, 2012Upload date

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