Volume 94, Issue 1, Winter 2020
The Philosophical Legacy of John Henry Newman
Logan Paul Gage
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.