Hume's Argument against Miracles

Edited by Daniel von Wachter (International Academy of Philosophy In The Principality of Liechtenstein)
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  1. Hume on the Best Attested Miracles.Michael Jacovides - manuscript
    The first argument that Hume offers against believing in miracle stories in Part 2 of his essay on miracles relies on social context in a way that makes it difficult to follow. Hume says that there’s never been a miracle story that’s well enough attested with respect to certain criteria of testimonial strength. A little later in the essay, he cites recent miracle stories coming from that Saint Médard cemetery as meeting the criteria to an exceptionally high degree, but even (...)
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  2. Hume and Catholic Miracles.Michael Jacovides - manuscript
    Two arguments in Hume’s essay on miracles are reductios ad Catholicism: if you believe in the miracles in the Bible, then you ought to believe in Catholic miracles as well. Hume’s intended readers hated Catholicism and would sooner reject miracles than follow the pope. Hume argues that Jansenist miracle stories meet the standards of trustworthiness as well as any miracles in history. He knows that his Protestant believers don’t believe the stories, and he hopes to persuade his readers to reject (...)
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  3. Two (Failed) Versions of Hume's Argument Against Miracles.Nathan Rockwood - forthcoming - Faith and Philosophy.
    Hume’s argument against believing the testimony of miracles is the most influential treatment of the topic, but there is not yet a consensus on how to interpret his argument. Two arguments are attributed to him. First, Hume seems to start with the infrequency of miracles and uses this to infer that the testimony of a miracle is exceedingly unlikely, and this then creates strong but defeasible evidence against the testimony of any miracle. Second, perhaps Hume takes the constancy of our (...)
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  4. Hume’s ‘Dialogues concerning Natural Religion’: A Critical Guide.Paul Russell (ed.) - forthcoming - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Contributors: -/- John Beatty (British Columbia); Kelly James Clark (Ibn Haldun, Istanbul); Angela Coventry (Portland State); Thomas Holden (UC Santa Barbara); Willem Lemmens (Antwerp); Robin Le Poidevin (Leeds); Jennifer Marusic (Edinburgh); Kevin Meeker (South Alabama); Amyas Merivale (Oxford); Peter Millican (Oxford); Dan O’Brien (Oxford Brookes); Graham Oppy (Monash); Paul Russell (Lund); Andre C. Willis (Brown).
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  5. Hume, Contrary Miracles, and Religion as We Find It.Michael Jacovides - 2022 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 39 (2):147-161.
    In the “Contrary Miracles Argument,” Hume argues that the occurrence of miracle stories in rival religions should undermine our belief in the trustworthiness of these reports. In order for this argument to have any merit, it has to be understood in its historical, religious context. Miracle stories are used in support of religions, and it's part of religion as we find it to reject miracle stories from rival traditions. A defender of miracle stories could avoid the argument by breaking the (...)
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  6. The de jure objection against belief in miracles.Gesiel da Silva - 2021 - Manuscrito 44 (4):434-452.
    Alvin Plantinga (1993a, 1993b, 2000) argues that de jure objections to theism depend on de facto objections: in order to say that belief in God is not warranted, one should first assume that this belief is false. Assuming Plantinga’s epistemology and his de facto/de jure distinction, In this essay, I argue that to show that belief in miracles is not warranted, one must suppose that belief in miracles is always false. Therefore, a person who holds a skeptical position regarding miracles (...)
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  7. David Hume and the Philosophy of Religion.Paul Russell - 2021 - In Stewart Goetz & Charles Taliaferro (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Religion. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 1-20.
    David Hume (1711-1776) is widely recognized as one of the most influential and significant critics of religion in the history of philosophy. There remains, nevertheless, considerable disagreement about the exact nature of his views. According to some, he was a skeptic who regarded all conjectures relating to religious hypotheses to be beyond the scope of human understanding – he neither affirmed nor denied these conjectures. Others read him as embracing a highly refined form of “true religion” of some kind. On (...)
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  8. Hume on Laws and Miracles.Nathan Rockwood - 2018 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 92 (4).
    Hume famously argues that the laws of nature provide us with decisive reason to believe that any testimony of a miracle is false. In this paper, I argue that the laws of nature, as such, give us no reason at all to believe that the testimony of a miracle is false. I first argue that Hume’s proof is unsuccessful if we assume the Humean view of laws, and then I argue that Hume’s proof is unsuccessful even if we assume the (...)
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  9. Hume’s Critique of Religion: Sick Men’s Dreams, by A. Bailey & D. O'Brien. [REVIEW]Paul Russell - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (273):867-70.
    Hume’s Critique of Religion is a valuable and rewarding contribution to Hume scholarship. The atheistic interpretation that the authors defend is well supported and convincingly argued. Although Gaskin’s Hume’s Philosophy of Religion is (rightly) highly regarded, I believe that Bailey and O’Brien provide a more compelling and convincing interpretation. Their account is, in particular, much stronger in respect of the historical background and contextual considerations that they draw on to support of their interpretation. These historical advances are achieved without weakening (...)
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  10. Against Miracles as Law-Violations: A Neo-Aristotelian Approach.Archer Joel - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (4):83--98.
    Miracles are commonly understood in the way David Hume defined them: as violations of the laws of nature. I argue, however, that the conjunction of Hume’s definition with a neo-Humean view of the laws of nature yields objectionable consequences. In particular, the two jointly imply that some miracles are logically impossible. A better way of thinking about miracles, I suggest, is on a neo-Aristotelian metaphysics. On that view, the laws of nature contain built-in ceteris paribus clauses that allow for the (...)
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  11. Per posterius: Hume and Peirce on miracles and the boundaries of the scienti c game.Tritten Tyler - 2014 - Argument: Biannual Philosophical Journal 4 (2).
    this article provides a response to David Hume’s argument against the plausibility of miracles as found in Section 10 of his An enquiry concerning human understanding by means of Charles Sanders Peirce’s method of retroduction, hypothetic inference, and abduction, as it is explicated and applied in his article entitled A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God, rather than fo‐ cusing primarily on Peirce’s explicit reaction to Hume in regard to miracles, as found in Hume on miracles. the main focus (...)
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  12. Hume on Miracles.Yann Schmitt - 2012 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 17 (1):49-71.
    Hume’s chapter “Of Miracles” has been widely discussed, and one issue is that Hume seems to simply beg the question. Hume has a strong but implicit naturalist bias when he argues against the existence of reliable testimony for miracles. In this article, I explain that Hume begs the question, despite what he says about the possibility of miracles occurring. e main point is that he never describes a violation of the laws of nature that could not be explained by scientific (...)
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  13. Hume on Religion.Paul Russell - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    David Hume's various writings concerning problems of religion are among the most important and influential contributions on this topic. In these writings Hume advances a systematic, sceptical critique of the philosophical foundations of various theological systems. Whatever interpretation one takes of Hume's philosophy as a whole, it is certainly true that one of his most basic philosophical objectives is to unmask and discredit the doctrines and dogmas of orthodox religious belief. There are, however, some significant points of disagreement about the (...)
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  14. Of Miracles and Evidential Probability: Hume's "Abject Failure" Vindicated.William L. Vanderburgh - 2005 - Hume Studies 31 (1):37-61.
    This paper defends David Hume's "Of Miracles" from John Earman's (2000) Bayesian attack by showing that Earman misrepresents Hume's argument against believing in miracles and misunderstands Hume's epistemology of probable belief. It argues, moreover, that Hume's account of evidence is fundamentally non-mathematical and thus cannot be properly represented in a Bayesian framework. Hume's account of probability is show to be consistent with a long and laudable tradition of evidential reasoning going back to ancient Roman law.
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  15. “Butler’s ‘Future State’ and Hume’s ‘Guide of Life’”,.Paul Russell - 2004 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (4):425-448.
    : In this paper I argue that Hume's famous discussion of probability and induction, as originally presented in the Treatise, is significantly motivated by irreligious objectives. A particular target of Hume's arguments is Joseph Butler's Analogy of Religion. In the Analogy Butler intends to persuade his readers of both the credibility and practical importance of the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments. The argument that he advances relies on probable reasoning and proceeds on the assumption that our (...)
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  16. On Hume's Philosophical Case against Miracles.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2003 - In Robin Collins (ed.), God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Longman Publications.
    According to the Christian religion, Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again”. I take it that this rising again—the Resurrection of Jesus, as it’s sometimes called—is, according to the Christian religion, an historical event, just like his crucifixion, death, and burial. And I would have thought that to investigate whether the Resurrection occurred, we would need to do some historical research: we would need to assess the reliability of (...)
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  17. Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles. [REVIEW]Jeffrey Koperski - 2002 - Philosophia Christi 4 (2):558-563.
    Review of John Earman's _Hume's Abject Failure_.
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  18. Naturalism and Wonder: Peirce on the Logic of Hume's Argument Against Miracles.Catherine Legg - 2001 - Philosophia 28 (1-4):297-318.
    Peirce wrote that Hume’s argument against miracles (which is generally liked by twentieth century philosophers for its antireligious conclusion) "completely misunderstood the true nature of" ’abduction’. This paper argues that if Hume’s argumentative strategy were seriously used in all situations (not just those in which we seek to "banish superstition"), it would deliver a choking epistemological conservatism. It suggests that some morals for contemporary naturalistic philosophy may be drawn from Peirce’s argument against Hume.
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  19. David Hume's Critique of Religion and its Implications for Contemporary Theology.John Hendricks - 1999 - Dissertation, University of Chicago
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  20. Zu Bolzanos Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre.Georg J. W. Dorn - 1987 - Philosophia Naturalis 24 (4):423–441.
    Bolzano hat seine Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre in 15 Punkten im § 14 des zweiten Teils seiner Religionswissenschaft sowie in 20 Punkten im § 161 des zweiten Bandes seiner Wissenschaftslehre niedergelegt. (Ich verweise auf die Religionswissenschaft mit 'RW II', auf die Wissenschaftslehre mit 'WL II'.) In der RW II (vgl. p. 37) ist seine Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre eingebettet in seine Ausführungen "Über die Natur der historischen Erkenntniß, besonders in Hinsicht auf Wunder", und die Lehrsätze, die er dort zusammenstellt, dienen dem ausdrücklichen Zweck, mit mathematischem Rüstzeug (...)
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  21. Hume on testimony to the miraculous.Bruce Langtry - 1972 - Sophia 11 (1):20-25.
    Hume, in the Enquiry Section X Part 1, claims that ’all probability supposes an opposition of experiments and observations, where one side is found to overbalance the other and to produce a degree of evidence proportioned to the superiority’. He concludes that in assessing miracle-claims one should weigh the historical testimony supporting the miracle against the testimony supporting the regularity to which it is an exception. I argue that both his premise and his conclusion are false.
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