Philosophical Studies

, Volume 160, Issue 2, pp 287-303

First online:

Fine-tuning and the infrared bull’s-eye

  • John T. RobertsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of North Carolina Email author 

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I argue that the standard way of formalizing the fine-tuning argument for design is flawed, and I present an alternative formalization. On the alternative formalization, the existence of life is not treated as the evidence that confirms design; instead it is treated as part of the background knowledge, while the fact that fine tuning is required for life serves as the evidence. I argue that the alternative better captures the informal line of thought that gives the fine-tuning argument its intuitive plausibility, and I show that the alternative formalization avoids all of the most prominent objections to the fine-tuning argument, including the objection from observation selection effects, the problem of old evidence, the problem of non-normalizable probability measures and a further objection due to Monton. I conclude that the alternative formalization is the one that attention should be focused on.


Fine-tuning Design Natural theology God Elliott Sober Bradley Monton