A Defense of Hume on Miracles (Princeton Monographs in by Robert J. Fogelin

By Robert J. Fogelin

For the reason that its e-book within the mid-eighteenth century, Hume's dialogue of miracles has been the objective of serious and sometimes ill-tempered assaults. during this ebook, one among our best historians of philosophy deals a scientific reaction to those attacks.

Arguing that those criticisms have--from the very start--rested on misreadings, Robert Fogelin starts off through supplying a story of how Hume's argument truly unfolds. What Hume's critics (and even a few of his defenders) have did not see is that Hume's fundamental argument depends upon solving the best criteria of comparing testimony awarded on behalf of a miracle. Given the definition of a miracle, Hume rather quite argues that the criteria for comparing such testimony needs to be tremendous excessive. Hume then argues that, on the contrary, no testimony on behalf of a non secular miracle has even come just about assembly the best criteria for reputation. Fogelin illustrates that Hume's critics have always misunderstood the constitution of this argument--and have saddled Hume with completely lousy arguments no longer present in the textual content. He responds first to a couple early critics of Hume's argument after which to 2 contemporary critics, David Johnson and John Earman. Fogelin's target, despite the fact that, isn't really to "bash the bashers," yet really to teach that Hume's remedy of miracles has a coherence, intensity, and tool that makes it nonetheless the easiest paintings at the topic.

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We then adjust our probability assignment downward to accommodate this new fact. How this is done in detail can be complicated, but here we need only make the simple point: When the conditional probability of a hypothesis lies between the extremes of 1 and 0, additional evidence can lead us to revise the probability assignment either up or down. When, however, it lies at either of the extreme points, additional evidence cannot budge it. At these endpoints, conditional probability of the hypothesis is unrevisable or indefeasible (monotonic) in the light of further evidence.

Nor is he claiming that no one could ever observe a miracle. He is T H E S T R U C T U R E O F H U M E ' S A R G U M E N T 19 not missing the point by defining “miracle” in such a way that any event that actually occurs or is observed, no matter how bizarre, would fail to be a miracle. ” As we shall see in examining the further development of Hume’s argument as it unfolds in part 2, Hume’s aim is not to achieve this shallow verbal victory—if it is a victory. Is Hume’s argument either circular or question-begging?

If there is no good reason to give preference to one source over the other, they cancel each other out in just the way Hume suggests. 7 Normally, citing an appropriate reference work settles a matter—no further examination or scrutiny of evidence is demanded. The situation changes, however, when, as in the above case, two reference works conflict. In this circumstance, the level of scrutiny rises and the reliability of the reference works themselves becomes an object of examination. From this new perspective we will not say that either citation amounts to a proof—though in the absence of such a conflict (or any other factor that triggers a higher level of scrutiny), each would have counted as a proof.

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