Unnatural Religion

Hume Studies 32 (1):83-112 (2006)
Many interpretations of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion have labored under the assumption that one of the characters represents Hume’s view on the Design Argument, and Philo is often selected for this role. I reject this opinion by showing that Philo is inconsistent. He offers a decisive refutation of the Design Argument, yet later endorses this very argument. I then dismiss two prominent ways of handling Philo’s reversal: first, I show that Philo is not ironic either in his skepticism or in his theistic reversal. Second, I reject the suggestion that the Design Argument is a natural belief, since it differs significantly from causal and external world beliefs. Finally, I argue that the control the Design Argument exerts is the product of a youthful indoctrination that prevents Philo from consistently maintaining his skeptical position
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