Design: A Heuristic Strategy, not a Metaphysical Doctrine (13 Pages) 11 July 2008 — Key Paper – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

Design: A Heuristic Strategy, Not Metaphysical Doctrine by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Because there’s only indirect access to causes, given effects can be understood to have multiple causes, and the same cause can produce multiple effects, the criterion for the evaluation of a causal explanation is neither empirical proof nor disproof. Rather, the evaluation must be in terms of the consequences of holding the cause for an adequate explanation of the event in relationship to laws of relationality necessary for the appearances. The Physico-Theological argument for design as a form of cause in nature cannot serve to give us any information about the noumenon (God) that it presupposes – certainly not any information about anthropomorphic characteristics of that noumenon. Rather, its value is to confirm our confidence in the intelligibility (the rule-governed character) of nature in contrast, for example, to the chaos of nocturnal dreams. Because all our capacities, which include theoretical (science) and practical (religion) reason are dependent upon the material conditions of experience, this criterion of intelligible necessity is important not only for the furtherance of the natural scientific enterprise but also for (moral) religion.  Drawing on pre-critical and critical writings of Kant in the spirit of H. Allison, I reject the Naturalistic reading of Kant by P.F. Strawson et al. to argue that Kant’s Critical Idealism is beneficial for an investigating of the meaning and role of design in experience without succumbing to anthropomorphic speculations about God.

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