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Hume Studies Volume 29, Number 2, November 2003, pp. 283-304 Philo's Argument for Divine Amorality Reconsidered KLAASJ. KRAAY "You seem not to apprehend, replied Philo, that I argue with Cleanthes in his own way; and by showing him the dangerous consequences of his tenets, hope at last to reduce him to our opinion." -(DNR 2.11; 145) A central tactic in Philo's criticism of the design argument is the introduction of several alternative hypotheses, each of which is alleged to explain apparent design at least as well as Cleanthes' analogical inference to an intelligent designer. In part 6, Philo proposes that the world "is an animal, and the Deity is the soul of the world, actuating it, and actuated by it" (DNR 6.3; 171); in part 7, he suggests that "it is a palpable and egregious partiality" to favour reason as a probable cause of apparent design over other principles such as instinct, generation, vegetation, and "a hundred others which lie open to our conjecture" (DNR 7.11; 178); and in part 8, he offers an "Epicurean" hypothesis according to which the appearance of design is due to matter itself .1 It is widely agreed that by the end of part 8, Philo has convincingly shown that the empirical evidence considerably underdetermines the conclusion Cleanthes purported it to establish. Philo, at any rate, declares a skeptical triumph: "A total suspense of judgement is here our only reasonable resource" (DNR 8.12; 186-7). Klaas Kraay is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, 215 Huron Street (9th Floor), Toronto, Ontario, M5S IAl, Canada, e-mail: kkraay@chass.utoronto.ca 284 Klaas J. Kraay Philo's swift argument for divine amorality at the end of part 11 contrasts markedly with this skepticism.2 Here, Philo reasons with great confidence concerning what he takes to be the (only) four hypotheses concerning the morality of the first cause(s) of the universe: divine benevolence, divine malevolence, Manicheeism, and divine amorality. He argues briefly against the first, summarily rejects the second and third, and declares with apparent sincerity that "[t]he true conclusion is, that the original source of all things is entirely indifferent to all these principles, and has no more regard to good above ill than to heat above cold, or to drought above moisture, or to light above heavy" (DNR 11.15; 212). I first discuss Philo's argument for divine amorality, and I distinguish it from his earlier criticisms of any inference from mundane data to divine benevolence . In section 2,1 diagnose deficiencies in two contrary interpretations of the argument for divine amorality. In section 3, I offer three reasons for rejecting the surface meaning of this argument. In section 4,1 reveal Philo's argument to be a sophisticated parody of both Cleanthes' natural theology and his appeal to the passional influence of the design hypothesis. Philo, I argue, does not intend to show that the Deity is probably amoral; rather, he intends to show Cleanthes—by literally arguing with him "in his own way" (DNR 2.11; 145)—that the tools of Cleanthes' 'experimental theism' can equally be wielded in service of a wholly incompatible view. 1. Philo on Evil Before arguing for divine amorality in part 11, Philo first claims that the moral qualities of the Deity cannot be concluded, from mundane data, to resemble human moral qualities. After surveying the variety of human misery in part 10, Philo challenges Cleanthes: And it is possible, Cleanthes. . . that after these reflections, and infinitely more, which might be suggested, you can still persevere in your anthropomorphism, and assert the moral qualities of the Deity, his justice, benevolence, mercy, and rectitude, to be of the same nature with these virtues in human creatures? His power we allow infinite: Whatever he wills is executed: But neither man nor any other animal are happy: Therefore he does not will their happiness. His wisdom is infinite: He is never mistaken in choosing the means to any end: But the course of nature tends not to human or animal felicity : Therefore it is not established for that purpose. Though the whole compass of human knowledge...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 283-304
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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