Authors
Lloyd Strickland
Manchester Metropolitan University
Abstract
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
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DOI 10.1080/21692327.2013.858230
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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.

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