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William Paley
(English Theologian)

Date of Death:
May 25, 1805


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William Paley was a British Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is famous for the watchmaker analogy commonly known as the Teleological argument.

Born in Peterborough, England, Paley was educated at Prince Henry's Grammar School, of which his father was headmaster, and at Christ's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1763 as senior wrangler, became fellow in 1766, and in 1768 tutor of his college. He lectured on Clarke, Butler and Locke, and also delivered a systematic course on moral philosophy, which subsequently formed the basis of his well-known treatise. The subscription controversy was then agitating the university, and Paley published an anonymous defence of a pamphlet in which Bishop Law had advocated the retrenchment and simplification of the Thirty-nine Articles; he did not, however, sign the petition for a relaxation of the terms of subscription.

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