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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Argument from Beauty: An Inference to the Best Explanation for the Properties and Phenomenon of Beauty
by James, Rick Davy, Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018, 310; 13419356
Abstract (Summary)

In Chapter One, an historical survey will provide a history of beauty as natural theology, beginning with Plato and extending to the mid-twentieth century. This historical research should provide context critical to the development of the argument.

In Chapter Two, the contemporary argument from beauty will be surveyed, but unlike Chapter One, analysis will be through depth and not in breadth. Two contemporary arguments from beauty will be exposited and evaluated: C. S. Lewis’s argument from the aesthetic experience of longing, and the fine-tuning argument of Robin Collins, in which he argues for objective beauty in the universe, with God as the first-cause. Following the analysis of both arguments, there will be a general evaluative summary giving perspective on the combined research of chapters one and two and identifying key elements to be incorporated into the argument from beauty as it is developed.

In Chapter Three, focus will turn to structural elements of the argument. Here, the structure and rationale of abductive arguments will be explained, and the elements of an Inference to the Best Explanation will be delineated. Finally, the criteria that will determine the best explanation will be established, and an outline given that will forecast the argument to follow.

In Chapter Four, descriptive clarity will be given to the two hypotheses and the facts of beauty that require an explanation. First, the two explanatory hypotheses, theism and philosophical naturalism, will be plainly set out. In this context, the various evolutionary accounts of beauty that constitute philosophical naturalism will be explained. These include: natural selection, sexual selection, biophilia hypothesis, null theory, spandrel hypothesis, and social cohesion. Second, the facts of beauty will be identified, categorized, and adumbrated. The facts of beauty that will be explored are: cosmological facts, moral facts, existential facts, epistemological facts, and axiological facts.

In Chapter Five, the explanations of theism and philosophical naturalism will be elaborated and evaluated. This preliminary evaluation will set the stage for the final evaluation. After considering the explanations for each of the facts of beauty, the final evaluation will involve the inference to the best explanation based upon the explanatory criteria.

Chapter Six will be a review of the research, a summary of the argument, and a reiteration of theism as the best explanation for beauty. Lastly, general consideration will be given to possible directions for future research and arguments from beauty.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dew, James K.
Commitee: Baise, Bryan, Dew, James K., Pratt, Jacob M., Spencer, Ivan
School: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Department: Department of Graduate Studies
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 80/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy of religion
Keywords: Aesthetic argument, Aesthetics, Apologetics, Argument from beauty, Beauty, Natural theology
Publication Number: 13419356
ISBN: 978-0-438-72515-7
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