Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles
Oxford University Press, 2000 M11 23 - 232 pages
This vital study offers a new interpretation of Hume's famous "Of Miracles," which notoriously argues against the possibility of miracles. By situating Hume's popular argument in the context of the eighteenth-century debate on miracles, Earman shows Hume's argument to be largely unoriginal and chiefly without merit where it is original. Yet Earman constructively conceives how progress can be made on the issues that Hume's essay so provocatively posed about the ability of eyewitness testimony to establish the credibility of marvelous and miraculous events.
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Appendix on Probability
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admit Annet appear asserted assurance Bayes Bayesian believe causes certainty Christian circumstances concerning conclusion conditional probability confirmation contradict contrary course of nature David Hume dead deceive degrees of belief divine doctrine doubt drawing drawn Edition effect establish the credibility event examined extraordinary eyewitness testimony false falsehood force give Godís greater happen Henry Home human testimony Humeís argument Humeís essay Humeís Maxim Humeís straight rule hypothesis impossible improbability independent witnesses Indian prince inductive inductive reasoning instance JANSENIST Jesus judge laws of nature less Lockeís matter menís multiple witnessing never observed occurrence opinion particular Peter Annet Philosophical possible posterior probability Price principle prior probability probability axioms proof prove question reason reject religion religious miracles render resurrection Resurrection of Jesus revelation Richard Price Samuel Clarke Scripture sense story sufficient suppose theists things true truth uniform experience veracity violation white ball Woolston
Page 119 - And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
Page 190 - A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature ; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.
Page 203 - That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish...
Page 56 - Thus, suppose, all authors, in all languages agree that from the first of January 1600 there was a total darkness over the whole earth for eight days: Suppose that the tradition of this extraordinary event is still strong and lively among the people: That all travellers, who return from foreign countries, bring us accounts of the same tradition, without the least variation or contradiction. It is evident that our present philosophers, instead of doubting the fact, ought to receive it as certain,...
Page 119 - And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
Page 119 - If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
Page 177 - ... as has seldom fallen under our observation, here is a contest of two opposite experiences; of which the one destroys the other, as far as its force goes, and the superior can only operate on the mind by the force, which remains. The very same principle of experience...
Page 144 - In the foregoing reasoning we have supposed, that the testimony, upon which a miracle is founded, may possibly amount to an entire proof, and that the falsehood of that testimony would be a real prodigy: But it is easy to shew, that we have been a great deal too liberal in our concession, and that there never was a miraculous event established on so full an evidence.
Page 146 - People at a distance, who are weak enough to think the matter at all worth enquiry, have no opportunity of receiving better information. The stories come magnified to them by a hundred circumstances. Fools are industrious in propagating the imposture; while the wise and learned are contented, in general, to deride its absurdity, without informing themselves of the particular facts, by which it may be distinctly refuted. And thus the impostor...