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Twenty Questions about Hume's “Of Miracles”*

  • Peter Millican (a1)

Hume's essay on the credibility of miracle reports has always been controversial, with much debate over how it should be interpreted, let alone assessed. My aim here is to summarise what I take to be the most plausible views on these issues, both interpretative and philosophical, with references to facilitate deeper investigation if desired. The paper is divided into small sections, each headed by a question that provides a focus. Broadly speaking, §§1–3 and §20 are on Hume's general philosophical framework within which the essay is situated, §§4–11 and §19 are on Part 1, §12–18 are on Part 2, and the final three sections §§18–20 sum up my assessment of his arguments.

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C. D. Broad (1917), “Hume's Theory of the Credibility of Miracles”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 17, pp. 7794.

Dorothy Coleman (1988), “Hume, Miracles and Lotteries”, Hume Studies 14, pp. 328–46.

John Earman (2000), Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles, Oxford University Press.

Antony Flew (1959), “Hume's Check”, Philosophical Quarterly 9, pp. 118.

J. C. A. Gaskin (1988), Hume's Philosophy of Religion, Macmillan, second edition.

Donald Gillies (1991), “A Bayesian Proof of a Humean Principle”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 42, pp. 255–6.

Rodney D. Holder (1998), “Hume on Miracles: Bayesian Interpretation, Multiple Testimony, and the Existence of God”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49, pp. 4965.

Colin Howson (2000), Hume's Problem: Induction and the Justification of Belief, Clarendon Press.

Tania Lombrozo , Deborah Kelemen and Deborah Zaitchik (2007), “Inferring Design: Evidence of a preference for teleological explanations in patients with Alzheimer's disease”, Psychological Science 18.11, pp. 9991006.

Peter Millican (1993), “‘Hume's Theorem’ Concerning Miracles”, Philosophical Quarterly 43, pp. 489–95.

Peter Millican (2007a), “Humes Old and New: Four Fashionable Falsehoods, and One Unfashionable Truth”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 81, pp. 163–99.

Peter Millican (2009), “Hume, Causal Realism, and Causal Science”, Mind 118, pp. 647712.

Jordan Howard Sobel (1991), “Hume's Theorem on Testimony Sufficient to Establish a Miracle”, Philosophical Quarterly 41, pp. 229–37.

Barry Stroud (1977), Hume, Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Richard Swinburne (1968), “Miracles”, Philosophical Quarterly 18, pp. 320–8.

Richard Swinburne (1996), Is There a God?, Oxford University Press.

Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman (1974), “Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases”, Science 185, pp. 1124–31.

Fred Wilson (1989), “The Logic of Probabilities in Hume's Argument against Miracles”, Hume Studies 15, pp. 255–75.

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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