William Paley (July 1743 – 25 May 1805) was an English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his natural theology exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, which made use of the watchmaker analogy.
Portrait by George Romney
|Died||25 May 1805 (aged 61)|
|Alma mater||Christ's College, Cambridge|
|Known for||Contributions to moral philosophy, political philosophy, ethics and philosophy of religion|
|Awards||Members' Prize, Cambridge, 1765|
|Institutions||Giggleswick Grammar School, Christ's College, Cambridge, Giggleswick Parish, Carlisle Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral, Durham Cathedral|
Paley was born in Peterborough, England, and was educated at Giggleswick School, of which his father was headmaster, and at Christ's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1763 as senior wrangler, became fellow in 1766, and in 1768 tutor of his college. He lectured on Samuel Clarke, Joseph Butler and John Locke in his systematic course on moral philosophy, which subsequently formed the basis of his Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy; and on the New Testament, his own copy of which is in the British Library. The sub controversy was then agitating the university, and Paley pushed an anonymous defence of a pamphlet in which the Master of Peterhouse and Bishop of Carlisle Edmund Law had advocated the retrenchment and simplification of the Thirty-nine Articles; he did not, however, sign the petition (called the "Feathers Tavern" petition, from the place where it was agreed) for a relaxation of the terms of subscription. He was also a strong supporter of the American colonies during the revolutionary war, partly because he thought it would lead to the destruction of slavery. He studied philosophy.
In 1776 Paley was presented to the rectory of Musgrave in Westmorland, which was exchanged soon after for Appleby. He was subsequently made vicar of Dalston in 1780, near the bishop's palace at Rose Castle. In 1782 he became the Archdeacon of Carlisle. Paley was intimate with the Law family throughout his life, and the Bishop and his son John Law (who was later an Irish bishop) were instrumental during the decade after he left Cambridge in pressing him to publish his revised lectures and in negotiating with the publisher. In 1782 Edmund Law, otherwise the mildest of men, was most particular that Paley should add a book on political philosophy to the moral philosophy, which Paley was reluctant to write. The book was published in 1785 under the title of The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, and was made a part of the examinations at the University of Cambridge the next year. It passed through fifteen editions in the author's lifetime. Paley strenuously supported the abolition of the slave trade, and his attack on slavery in the book was instrumental in drawing greater public attention to the practice. In 1789, a speech he gave on the subject in Carlisle was published.
The Principles was followed in 1790 by his first essay in the field of Christian apologetics, Horae Paulinae, or the Truth of the Scripture History of St Paul which compared the Paul's Epistles with the Acts of the Apostles, making use of "undesigned coincidences" to argue that these documents mutually supported each other's authenticity. Some have said this book was the most original of Paley's works. It was followed in 1794 by the celebrated View of the Evidences of Christianity, which was also added to the examinations at Cambridge, remaining on the syllabus until the 1920s.
For his services in defence of the faith, with the publication of the Evidences, the Bishop of London gave him a stall in St Paul's; the Bishop of Lincoln made him subdean of that cathedral, and the Bishop of Durham conferred upon him the rectory of Bishopwearmouth. During the remainder of Paley's life, his time was divided between Bishopwearmouth and Lincoln, during which time he wrote Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, despite his increasingly debilitating illness. He died on 25 May 1805 and is buried in Carlisle Cathedral with his two wives. His second son was the architect Edward Graham Paley and his grandson was the classical scholar Frederick Apthorp Paley.
Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy was one of the most influential philosophical texts in late Enlightenment Britain. It was cited in several parliamentary debates over the corn laws in Britain and in debates in the US Congress. The book remained a set textbook at Cambridge well into the Victorian era. Charles Darwin, as a student of theology, was required to read it when he did his undergraduate studies at Christ's College, but it was Paley's Natural Theology that most impressed Darwin even though it was not a set book for undergraduates. Portraits of Paley and Darwin face each other at Christ's College to this day.
Paley is also remembered for his contributions to the philosophy of religion, utilitarian ethics and Christian apologetics. In 1802, he published Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, his last book. As he states in the preface, he saw the book as a preamble to his other philosophical and theological books; in fact, he suggests that Natural Theology should be read first, so as to build a systematic understanding of his arguments. The main thrust of his argument was that God's design of the whole creation could be seen in the general happiness, or well-being, that was evident in the physical and social order of things. Such a book fell within the broad tradition of natural theology works written during the Enlightenment; and this explains why Paley based much of his thought on John Ray (1691), William Derham (1711) and Bernard Nieuwentyt (1750).
Paley's argument is built mainly around anatomy and natural history. "For my part", he says, "I take my stand in human anatomy"; elsewhere he insists upon "the necessity, in each particular case, of an intelligent designing mind for the contriving and determining of the forms which organized bodies bear". In making his argument, Paley employed a wide variety of metaphors and analogies. Perhaps the most famous is his analogy between a watch and the world. Historians, philosophers and theologians often call this the Watchmaker analogy. Building on this mechanical analogy, Paley presents examples from planetary astronomy and argues that the regular movements of the solar system resemble the workings of a giant clock. To bolster his views he cites the work of his old friend John Law and the Dublin Astronomer Royal John Brinkley.
The germ of the idea is to be found in ancient writers who used sundials and Ptolemaic epicycles to illustrate the divine order of the world. These types of examples can be seen in the work of the ancient philosopher Cicero, especially in his De natura deorum, ii. 87 and 97. The watch analogy was widely used in the Enlightenment, by deists and Christians alike. Thus, Paley's use of the watch (and other mechanical objects like it) continued a long and fruitful tradition of analogical reasoning that was well received by those who read Natural Theology when it was published in 1802.
Since Paley is often read in university courses that address the philosophy of religion, the timing of his design argument has sometimes perplexed modern philosophers. Earlier in the century David Hume had argued against notions of design with counter examples drawn from monstrosity, imperfect forms of testimony and probability (see watchmaker analogy). Hume's arguments, however, were not widely accepted by most of the reading public and they fell 'stillborn' (to use Hume's own assessment) from the press. Despite Hume's unpopularity, Paley's published works and in manuscript letters show that he engaged directly with Hume from his time as an undergraduate to his last works. Paley's works were more influential than Hume's from the 1800s to the 1840s. Hume's arguments were only accepted gradually by the reading public, and his philosophical works sold poorly until agnostics like Thomas Huxley championed Hume's philosophy in the late 19th century.
Scientific norms have changed greatly since Paley's day, and are inclined to do less than justice to his arguments and ways of reasoning. But his style is lucid and he was willing to present transparently the evidence against his own case. The design argument has also been applied in other fields of scientific and philosophical inquiry, notably in regards to anthropic cosmological fine-tuning, fine-tuning for discoverability and the origin of life. His subject matter was central to Victorian anxieties, which might be one reason Natural Theology continued to appeal to the reading public, making his book a best seller for most of the 19th century, even after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. Natural Theology and the Evidences of Christianity appealed to Victorian Evangelicals, although not so much to adherents of the Oxford Movement – and both found his utilitarianism objectionable. Paley's views influenced (both positively and negatively) theologians, philosophers and scientists, then and since.
In addition to Moral and Political Philosophy and the Evidences, Charles Darwin read Natural Theology during his student years, and later stated in his autobiography that he was initially convinced by the argument. His views changed with time. By the 1820s and 1830s, well-known liberals like Thomas Wakley and other radical editors of The Lancet were using Paley's ageing examples to attack the establishment's control over medical and scientific education in Durham, London, Oxford and Cambridge. It also inspired the Earl of Bridgewater to commission the Bridgewater Treatises and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge to issue cheap reprints for the rising middle class. But whereas Paley's natural theology was disassembled or rebuilt by intellectuals like Wakley or the Bridgewater authors, the core of argument retained an ongoing popularity with the reading public and served as the basis of many catechisms and textbooks that were used in Britain and its colonies until World War II when, as argued by Matthew Daniel Eddy, the existential morass of World War I undermined the moral teleology that had underpinned natural theology since the Enlightenment.
Today, Paley's name evokes both reverence and revulsion and his work is cited accordingly by authors seeking to frame their own views of design. Even Richard Dawkins, an opponent of the design argument, described himself as a neo-Paleyan in The Blind Watchmaker. Today, as in his own time (though for different reasons), Paley is a controversial figure, a lightning rod for both sides in the contemporary argument between science and religion. His writings reflect the thought of his time, but as Dawkins observed, his was a strong and logical approach to evidence, whether human or natural. Perhaps this explains why the Oxford constitutional theorist A.V. Dicey had his pupils read the Evidences to teach them about legal reasoning. It is for such reasons that Paley's writings, Natural Theology included, stand as a notable body of work in the canon of Western thought.
Events from the year 1743 in Great Britain.1805 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1805 in the United Kingdom. This is the year of the Battle of Trafalgar.Christ's College, Cambridge
Christ's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college includes the Master, the Fellows of the College, and about 450 undergraduate and 170 graduate students. The college was founded by William Byngham in 1437 as God's House. In 1505, the college was granted a new royal charter, was given a substantial endowment by Lady Margaret Beaufort, and changed its name to Christ's College, becoming the twelfth of the Cambridge colleges to be founded in its current form. The college is renowned for educating some of Cambridge's most famous alumni, including Charles Darwin and John Milton.
Within Cambridge, Christ's has a reputation for highest academic standards and strong tutorial support. It has averaged 1st place on the Tompkins Table from 1980–2006 and third place from 2006 to 2013, returning to first place in 2018.Giggleswick School
Giggleswick School is an independent co-educational boarding school in Giggleswick, near Settle, North Yorkshire, England.John Law (bishop)
John Law DD (1745–1810) was an English mathematician and clergyman who began his career as a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, and went on to become chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Church of Ireland bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh (1782–1787), Killala and Achonry (1787–1795), and finally of Elphin (1795–1810).
He was a lifelong friend and correspondent of the philosopher William Paley.List of mills in Preston
Preston in Lancashire, England has been associated with cotton since John Horrocks built his first spinning mill, the Yellow factory, in 1791. This was powered by a Bateman & Sherratt engine. Preston mills tended to have their own reservoirs. They spun cotton using hand mules and self-actors but normally also operated power looms in weaving sheds. Local firms such as Ainscow & Tomlinson and Grundy made mules for the mills. There were 60 mills operating in Preston in 1927.List of philosophers of religion
This is a list of philosophers of religion.
Joseph ben Abraham
Anselm of Canterbury
St. Thomas Aquinas
Augustine of Hippo
Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi
Isaac Orobio de Castro
G. K. Chesterton
Stephen R.L. Clark
William Lane Craig
Joseph Solomon Delmedigo
Aaron ben Elijah
Shem-Tov ibn Falaquera
Solomon ibn Gabirol
Johann Georg Hamann
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Jeshua ben Judah
Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus
Isaac ibn Latif
Leon of Modena
Elia del Medigo
David ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas
Robert Cummings Neville
Bahya ibn Paquda
Robert M. Price
John Duns Scotus
Isaac ben Sheshet
Hoter ben Shlomo
Walter Terence Stace
Melville Y. Stewart
Samuel ibn Tibbon
Joseph ibn Tzaddik
BhaskaraList of utilitarians
This is an incomplete list of advocates of utilitarianism and/or consequentialism.Murrow (film)
Murrow is a 1986 made-for-cable biographical movie directed by Jack Gold, written by Ernest Kinoy, and originally broadcast by HBO. Daniel J. Travanti played the title role of American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, and Robert Vaughn co-starred in the supporting role of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The cast also featured Dabney Coleman as CBS President William Paley.Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity
Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity is an 1802 work of Christian apologetics and philosophy of religion by the English clergyman William Paley (July 1743 – 25 May 1805). The book expounds his arguments from natural theology, making a teleological argument for the existence of God, notably beginning with the watchmaker analogy.
The book was written in the context of the natural theology tradition. In earlier centuries, theologians such as John Ray and William Derham, as well as philosophers of classical times such as Cicero, argued for the existence and goodness of God from the general well-being of living things and the physical world.
Paley's Natural Theology is an extended argument, constructed around a series of examples including finding a watch; comparing the eye to a telescope; and the existence of finely adapted mechanical structures in animals, such as joints which function like hinges or manmade ball and socket joints. Paley argues that these all lead to an intelligent Creator, and that a system is more than the sum of its parts. The last chapters are more theological in character, arguing that the attributes of God must be sufficient for the extent of his operations, and that God must be good because designs seen in nature are beneficial.
The book was many times republished and remains in print. It continues to be consulted by creationists. Charles Darwin took its arguments seriously and responded to them; evolutionary biologists like Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins continue to discuss Paley's book to respond to modern proponents with similar ideas.Natural theology
Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology that provides arguments for the existence of God based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.
This distinguishes it from revealed theology, which is based on scripture and/or religious experiences, and from transcendental theology, which is based on a priori reasoning. It is thus a type of philosophy, with the aim of explaining the nature of the gods, or of one supreme God. For monotheistic religions, this principally involves arguments about the attributes or non-attributes of God, and especially the existence of God, using arguments that do not involve recourse to supernatural revelation.
Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC) established a distinction between political theology (the social functions of religion), natural theology and mythical theology. His terminology became part of the Stoic tradition and then Christianity through Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas.Parson-naturalist
A parson-naturalist was a cleric (a "parson", strictly defined as a country priest who held the living of a parish, but the term is generally extended to other clergy), who often saw the study of natural science as an extension of his religious work. The philosophy entailed the belief that God, as the creator of all things, wanted man to understand his creations and thus to study them by collecting and classifying organisms and other natural phenomena.The natural theologians John Ray (1627–1705) and William Paley (1743–1805) argued that the elaborate complexity of the world of nature was evidence for the existence of a creator. Accordingly, a parson-naturalist frequently made use of his insights into philosophy and theology when interpreting what he observed in natural history.Richard Watson (bishop of Llandaff)
Richard Watson (1737–1816) was an Anglican bishop and academic, who served as the Bishop of Llandaff from 1782 to 1816. He wrote some notable political pamphlets. In theology, he belonged to an influential group of followers of Edmund Law that included also John Hey and William Paley.Susan Faye Cannon
Susan Faye Cannon, born Walter Faw Cannon (1925 in Durham, North Carolina – 1981) was an American historian of science.
The son of James Cannon III (1892-1960), Dean of Duke University Divinity School, Walter F. Cannon gained a degree in physics at Princeton University. Turning to history of science, his PhD (Harvard University, 1956) was titled 'On uniformity and progression in early Victorian cosmography'. In the early 1960s he wrote influential articles on uniformitarian geology, the 'Cambridge network', William Whewell's tidology, John Herschel, the relation of Charles Darwin to William Paley, liberal Anglicanism, and the general place of science in nineteenth-century culture. From 1962 to 1979 Cannon, as a historian of science, was Curator of the Classical Physics and Geosciences collection at the Smithsonian Institution. He founded and was the first editor of the Smithsonian Journal of History. In 1976 Cannon changed his name to Susan Faye Cannon, thereafter referring to himself as a 'male woman'.Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism
The Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism is an annual award presented by Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The recipient is deemed to represent a leading figure in the journalism industry, especially for ground-breaking achievements which have advanced the industry as a whole. The first award was presented by legendary journalist Walter Cronkite himself in 1984.Walter Yetnikoff
Walter Yetnikoff (born August 11, 1933) is an American music industry executive who was the president of CBS Records International from 1971 to 1975 and then president and CEO of CBS Records from 1975 to 1990. He is also known for his memoir, the New York Times-acclaimed Howling at the Moon (with David Ritz; 2004).
During his career at CBS, he guided the careers of Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Earth, Wind & Fire, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Gloria Estefan, and a host of other well-known artists.In 1975, William Paley made him President and CEO of CBS Records. During his tenure he attracted stars like James Taylor and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney away from, respectively, Warner Bros. Records and EMI, and went on to "preside over the most profitable and prestigious stable of artists of all time."With Yetnikoff at the helm of CBS Records, Michael Jackson's Thriller sold over 40 million copies, Earth, Wind & Fire's I Am and Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. each sold over 20 million and Billy Joel's The Stranger sold in excess of 13 million. Yetnikoff also helped launched the careers of Lauper (on Portrait Records, which CBS owned), Yankovic (on Scotti Brothers Records, which CBS distributed), and Estefan.
Yetnikoff was known for being a strong artist advocate. For example, Billy Joel speaks of how Yetnikoff bought back Joel's publishing rights and gave them to him as a birthday present. Yetnikoff notes in the documentary film The Last Play at Shea that he had to threaten Artie Ripp to close the deal. Also, when MTV first declined to air the music video to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", Yetnikoff charged the relatively new cable channel's executives with racism and threatened to pull all of CBS' material off the station.At CBS, Yetnikoff was the chief architect of the sale of CBS Records to Sony to create Sony Music Entertainment in January 1988.Watchmaker analogy
The watchmaker analogy or watchmaker argument is a teleological argument which states, by way of an analogy, that a design implies a designer. The analogy has played a prominent role in natural theology and the "argument from design," where it was used to support arguments for the existence of God and for the intelligent design of the universe, in both Christianity and Deism.
Sir Isaac Newton, among other leaders in the scientific revolution, including René Descartes, upheld "that the physical laws he had uncovered revealed the mechanical perfection of the workings of the universe to be akin to a watch, wherein the watchmaker is God."The 1859 publication of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection put forward an explanation for complexity and adaptation, which reflects scientific consensus on the origins of biological diversity. In the eyes of some, this provided a counter-argument to the watchmaker analogy: for example, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins referred to the analogy in his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker giving his explanation of evolution. Others, however, consider the watchmaker analogy to be compatible with evolutionary creation, opining that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. In the 19th century, deists, who championed the watchmaker analogy, held that Darwin's theory fit with "the principle of uniformitarianism—the idea that all processes in the world occur now as they have in the past" and that deistic evolution "provided an explanatory framework for understanding species variation in a mechanical universe."In the United States, starting in the 1960s, creationists revived versions of the argument to dispute the concepts of evolution and natural selection, and there was renewed interest in the watchmaker argument. The most famous statement of this teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.William S. Paley
William Samuel Paley (September 28, 1901 – October 26, 1990) was the chief executive who built the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) from a small radio network into one of the foremost radio and television network operations in the United States.