Peter McLaughlin
University of Heidelberg
This paper analyzes the remarkable popularity of William Paley’s argument from design among contemporary naturalists in biology and the philosophy of science. In philosophy of science Elliott Sober has argued that creationism should be excluded from the schools not because it is not science but because it is ‘less likely’ than evolution according to fairly standard confirmation theory. Creationism is said to have been a plausible scientific option as presented by Paley but no longer to be acceptable according to the same standards that once approved it. In biology C. G. Williams and Richard Dawkins have seen in Paley a proto-adaptationist. This paper shows that the historical assumptions of Sober’s arguments are wrong and that the philosophical arguments themselves take alternatives to science to be alternatives in science and conflate the null hypothesis, chance, with a competing explanatory hypothesis. It is also shown that the similarity of Paley’s adaptationism to that of contemporary biology is not what it is made out to be
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2007.12.015
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,319
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Collected Papers.Charles S. Peirce - 1931 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.David Hume - 1779/1998 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophical Review. Blackwell. pp. 338-339.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Role of Metaphysical Naturalism in Science.Martin Mahner - 2012 - Science & Education 21 (10):1437–1459.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How to Naturalize Epistemology.Ram Neta - 2008 - In Vincent Hendricks (ed.), New Waves in Epistemology. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 324--353.
Paley’s Inductive Inference to Design.Jonah N. Schupbach - 2005 - Philosophia Christi 7 (2):491-502.
William Paley.Author unknown - 2001 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Paley’s Argument for Design.Graham Oppy - 2002 - Philo 5 (2):161-173.


Added to PP index

Total views
49 ( #217,559 of 2,448,688 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #447,034 of 2,448,688 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes