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Bishop Butler

His life, writing & theology.

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Outline of Butler's Arguments

  1. Motivation and Methods
    1. Virtue and Piety
    2. The Appeal to Probability
  2. Natural Religion
    1. There is a God
      1. Butler's "assumption" that God Exists
      2. Butler on Clarke's Proof in the Letters
      3. Additional Proofs Mentioned by Butler
    2. There is a Future Life

      Butler introduces the issue of a future life in I.i.1.

      1. The Presumptive Case for the Expectation
        1. By appeal to growth (I.i.2)
        2. By appeal to continuance (I.i.3)
        3. Attempts to defeat the presumption (I.i.4-5)
        4. Summary (I.i.6)
      2. Imagination as the Basis of Prejudice (I.i.7)
      3. The Case Against Denial of the Expectation
        1. Prejudice that the soul is composite (I.i.8)
        2. Prejudice that we are our gross bodies (I.i.9-15)
        3. Prejudice of implications for brutes (I.i.16)
        4. Prejudice of bodily dependence (I.i.17-20)
        5. Prejudice of implications for vegetables (I.i.21)
      4. Summary (I.i.22)
      5. On the Naturalism of Expectation (I.i.23)
      6. Rejection of the Appeal to Curiosity (I.i.24)
      7. The Problem of Personal Identity (Diss. I)
    3. Nature is a Moral System
      1. The General Method of Divine Administration (I.ii)
      2. The Divine Administration is a Moral System (I.iii)
    4. Human Nature Adapted to Virtue (Fifteen Sermons)
      1. Development of Butler's Ethics (Preface, Diss. II)
      2. Refutations
        1. Of Shaftesbury (Preface 26-30)
        2. Of Hobbes (S I)
        3. Of Utilitarianism (Diss. II)
      3. The Superior Principles of Self-Love, Benevolence and Conscience (S I, II, III, XI, XII)
      4. Some Particular Passions
        1. Talking (S IV)
        2. Compassion (S V, VI)
        3. Resentment and Forgiveness (S VIII, IX)
        4. Love of God (S XIII, XIV)
      5. Some Cognitive Incapacities
        1. Self-Deception (S VII, X)
        2. Human Ignorance (S XV)
    5. Objections to the Moral System of Nature
      1. The Doctrine of Necessity (
      2. The Problem of Evil (I.vii)
  3. Revealed Religion
    1. Objections to the Alleged Christian Revelation
      1. Natural religion is sufficient. (II.i)
      2. Miracles are impossible. (II.ii)
      3. Revelation is contrary to expectation. (II.iii)
      4. Evil remains unexplained. (II.iv)
      5. A mediator is needless. (II.v)
      6. Christianity lacks universality. (
    2. The Particular Evidences for Revelation
      1. Miracles (II.vii.4-19)
      2. Prophecy (II.vii.20-26)
      3. The Proper Weighing of this Evidence (II.vii.27)
      4. The Cumulative Case (II.vii.28-44)
    3. Summation (II.vii.45)
      • There is no presumption against a revelation as miraculous.
      • The general scheme of Christianity and the principal parts of it are conformable to the experienced constitution of things, and the whole is perfectly credible.
      • The positive evidence cannot be destroyed, even if it can be lessened.
    4. Rebuttal Arguments
      1. Analogy with natural religion fails to clear difficulties (II.viii.4-5)
      2. Analogy with worldly pursuits fails to clear difficulties (II.viii.6-7)
      3. Analogy with natural providence fails to clear difficulties (II.viii.8)
      4. The mind is left unsatisfied (II.viii.9)
      5. The doubtful evidence for religion is insufficient to warrant giving up present interests and pleasures. (II.viii.10)
      6. The whole argument is ad hominem (II.viii.11)
    5. The force of the whole argument (II.viii.12-13)
  4. Institutional Religion
    1. The Benevolent Institutions
      1. Missions (6S I)
      2. Charities (6S II, IV, VI)
    2. The State
      1. Liberty (6S III)
      2. The Constitution (6S V)
    3. The Church ("Durham Charge")