Monday, March 22, 2010

Hicks's Critique

In the previous post I mentioned in passing Lewis Ezra Hicks, and quoted from his 1883 Critique of Design-Arguments. I wish more people were aware of the work. Hicks missteps on occasion, and parts of his discussion are out of date, but it was a remarkable achievement at the time, and is still far and away better than most discussions of design arguments today, despite the fact that we have more and better resources to use. One of the reasons for the quality of his discussion is that he works hard to take seriously the history of the argument, which means he avoids many of the amateur mistakes that are usually made. He recognizes that not all design arguments are the same, and makes an interesting argument that two completely different arguments, which he calls the eutaxiological and the teleological arguments, are often lumped together indiscriminately, leading to considerable confusion. He gives several insighftul criticisms of what he calls the teleological design argument; some of them more perceptive, I would say, than one generally finds today. If he were more widely read today, I really do believe, despite the occasional weaknesses in his arguments, that discussions of design arguments would be several levels more intelligent than they typically are.

I know very little about Hicks. At the time he was Professor of Geology at Denison University (in Ohio); he eventually became president of Rangoon Baptist College in Burma.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.