Hume's Abject Failure The Argument Against Miracles by John Earman

By John Earman

This important examine bargains a brand new interpretation of Hume's recognized "Of Miracles," which notoriously argues opposed to the potential of miracles. via situating Hume's well known argument within the context of the eighteenth-century debate on miracles, Earman indicates Hume's argument to be principally unoriginal and mainly with out benefit the place it's unique. but Earman constructively conceives how growth could be made at the matters that Hume's essay so provocatively posed concerning the skill of eyewitness testimony to set up the credibility of extraordinary and wonderful occasions.

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Extra resources for Hume's Abject Failure The Argument Against Miracles

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What is Hume's thesis about the outcome of such contests? Throughout Part 2. 43 bobs and weaves, shifting among several different claims against the possibility of establishing the credibility of a miracle. This shiftiness is. I think, symptomatic both of Hume's uncertainty about what he wanted to prove and also of his (perhaps unconscious) doubts about what his arguments establish. I can put my charge sharply, if somewhat unfairly, by posing a dilemma for Hume. There is a weak version of his thesis that is surely correct, but it amounts to no more than a collection of platitudes that hardly require a philosophical dissertation for support.

A lawlike generalization such that the total collective experience of all mankind provides many positive instances and no negative instances. This reading fits with Hume's declaration that a resurrection is a miracle because it “has never been observed in any age or country” and with his rejection of Locke's subjectivist conception of miracles that relativizes the concept to a particular observer. So far so good. But granted that the passing of water from a liquid to a solid state is not a miracle in this new sense, how does Hume escape the consequence that his rule of induction which produces a “proof” against a resurrection also leads to a proof against ice?

To keep matters simple, let us suppose that the witness is an honest and reliable reporter of what she thinks she sees. ) But suppose that because she is a religious enthusiast and because the miracle in question has religious significance for her, she is subject to self-deception and the deception of others. Letting D stand for the hypothesis that she is deceived, either into thinking that some particular miracle M occurred when in fact it didn't or into thinking that M did not occur when in fact it did, the principle of total probability can be used to expand the factor {} in (6): • • (7) Since Pr(t(M)/M&D&E&K) = 0 and Pr(t(M)/M&¬ D&E&K) = 1, we have that Pr(t(M)/M&E&K) = Pr(¬ D/M&E&K).

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