Against Miracles as Law-Violations: A Neo-Aristotelian Approach

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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 possibility of external influences in the natural world. Miracles, understood as instances of external, divine influence, would therefore neither violate the laws of nature nor be instances of those laws. In this respect, neo-Aristotelians have an advantage over neo-Humeans in providing a coherent account of miracles.
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Archival date: 2018-03-14
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