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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 94, Issue 1, Winter 2020

The Philosophical Legacy of John Henry Newman

Logan Paul Gage
Pages 141-157

Newman’s Argument from Conscience
Why He Needs Paley and Natural Theology After All

Recent authors, emphasizing Newman’s distaste for natural theology—especially William Paley’s design argument—have urged us to follow Newman’s lead and reject design arguments. But I argue that Newman’s own argument for God’s existence (his argument from conscience) fails without a supplementary design argument or similar reason to think our faculties are truth-oriented. In other words, Newman appears to need the kind of argument he explicitly rejects. Finding Newman’s rejection of natural theology to stem primarily from factors other than worries about cogency, however, I further argue that there is little reason not to pursue design arguments in order to save the argument from conscience.

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