Influences forming Plato’s views of the world workbook answers

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Exam-style question

Part (a)

Begin by explaining what the Teleological Argument says, through the writings of either Aquinas or Paley. You might describe the view that in some circles this remains a popular argument — for many, the most successful for the existence of God. On the other hand, it is strongly disliked by a number of religious philosophers. Or you might go straight into a description of the views held by John Stuart Mill, who pointed to the amount of evil in the world as a fundamental objection to design.

You might argue that Mill’s criticism, while tied to the problem of evil, is directed to the idea that, from a flawed universe, the most we can infer is a flawed Creator. There is real evil, not merely the result of people’s free choices but also, and more significantly, natural evil; that is, deaths from illness, plague, volcanoes, earthquakes, fog at sea, and so on, which seem part of the structure of the world. If these were designed, it seems a very faulty sort of design, and by a designer whose motives we may doubt.

You might use Anthony Kenny’s development of this thought where he says that this type of argument ‘leads to a God which is no more the source of good than the source of evil. The God to which this argument of rational theology leads is not supreme goodness: it is a being which is beyond good and evil.’

Part (b)

You might begin by turning this question on its head and pointing out that it is ludicrous to suggest that this argument has resisted all criticisms. This would allow you to go on to explore the various criticisms that have successfully undermined the force of the Design Arguments.

You might then assess the extent to which either of or both the arguments described in Part (a) can be held to be successful critiques of the view that there is evidence of design or purpose in the universe. If you decide to agree with the sentiment in the question, you should consider Teleological Arguments and not just assert religious positions and beliefs.

Topic 9

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