By Robert J. Fogelin

ISBN-10: 1400825776

ISBN-13: 9781400825776

Considering that its ebook within the mid-eighteenth century, Hume's dialogue of miracles has been the objective of serious and sometimes ill-tempered assaults. during this e-book, certainly one of 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 via delivering a story of ways Hume's argument truly unfolds. What Hume's critics (and even a few of his defenders) have didn't see is that Hume's fundamental argument relies on solving the correct criteria of comparing testimony offered on behalf of a miracle. Given the definition of a miracle, Hume rather quite argues that the factors for comparing such testimony needs to be tremendous excessive. Hume then argues that, actually, no testimony on behalf of a non secular miracle has even come with regards to assembly the correct criteria for reputation. Fogelin illustrates that Hume's critics have continuously misunderstood the constitution of this argument--and have saddled Hume with completely lousy arguments now not present in the textual content. He responds first to a couple early critics of Hume's argument after which to 2 fresh critics, David Johnson and John Earman. Fogelin's target, even if, isn't really to "bash the bashers," yet particularly to teach that Hume's remedy of miracles has a coherence, intensity, and gear that makes it nonetheless the easiest paintings at the topic.

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Additional info for A Defense of Hume on Miracles (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)

Sample text

Here is Johnson’s general assessment of Hume’s treatment of miracles: The view that there is in Hume’s essay, or in what can be reconstructed from it, any argument or reply or objection that is even superficially good, much less, powerful or devastating, is simply a philosophical myth. The mostly willing hearers who have been swayed by Hume on this matter have been held captive by nothing other than Hume’s great eloquence. ( Johnson 1999, 4) Johnson’s broad strategy in attempting to support this assessment is to argue along the following lines: Hume’s argument, as it appears in the text, is transparently question-begging, so it must either be rejected out of hand or be given a charitable reconstruction that makes it immune to this charge.

Hume’s fourth consideration demands close attention. I may add as a fourth reason, which diminishes the authority of prodigies, that there is no testimony for any, even those which have not been expressly detected, that is not opposed by an infinite number of witnesses; so that not only the miracle destroys the credit of the testimony, but the testimony destroys itself. 24) Under this heading, Hume first notes that the miracles reported by different religions will stand in conflict with one another if they are intended, as they sometimes are, to establish the unique legitimacy of one religion over all others.

We move into a new realm when we turn to John Earman’s Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles. For some time I accepted what I took to be a well-grounded empirical generalization that, going back to the eighteenth century, critics of Hume’s treatment of miracles have uniformly misread the text in a gross way. Earman’s work provides a clear counterexample to this claim. He not only avoids what I have called the gross misreading of the text; he explicitly rejects it. I will show this shortly, but first there is an unpleasant matter to get out of the way.

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

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