Lloyd Strickland
Manchester Metropolitan University
In early modern times it was not uncommon for thinkers to tease out from the nature of God various doctrines of substantial physical and metaphysical import. This approach was particularly fruitful in the so-called beast-machine controversy, which erupted following Descartes’ claim that animals are automata, that is, pure machines, without a spiritual, incorporeal soul. Over the course of this controversy, thinkers on both sides attempted to draw out important truths about the status of animals simply from the notion or attributes of God. Automatists – led by Nicolas Malebranche and Antoine Dilly – developed six such arguments, appealing to divine justice, providence, economy, glory (twice) and wisdom, while opponents to animal automatism developed two arguments, appealing to divine wisdom and goodness. In this article I shall examine the substance of all eight of these arguments, along with their origins, patronage, and variations, and the objections they elicited from opponents, with the aim of determining their suitability for use in contemporary debates about animal sentience and consciousness, and hence their relevance for contemporary philosophers.
Keywords God  Animals  Beast machine  Soul  Mechanism  Descartes  Malebranche  Automata
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/21692327.2013.858230
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

The Philosophical Writings of Descartes.Rene Descartes - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.
The Search After Truth.Nicolas Malebranche - 1991 - In Aloysius Martinich, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Early Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Zoologian Jurisprudence.Piyel Haldar - 2011 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 24 (3):291-306.
DAKO on Trial.Kimberly Bonia, Fern Brunger, Laura Fullerton, Chad Griffiths & Chris Kaposy - 2012 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 16 (3):275-295.
Omniscience and Experience.Marcel Sarot - 1991 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 30 (2):89 - 102.
The Nature of the Beast: Are Animals Moral?Peter Miller - 1987 - Environmental Ethics 9 (3):277-279.
Tierseele und tierethische Argumentationen in der deutschen philosophischen Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts.Hans Werner Ingensiep - 1996 - NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 4 (1):103-118.
Are Animals Capable of Concepts?Achim Stephan - 1999 - Erkenntnis 51 (1):583-596.


Added to PP index

Total views
111 ( #83,279 of 2,340,252 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
14 ( #44,361 of 2,340,252 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes