By Robert J. Fogelin
Considering its book within the mid-eighteenth century, Hume's dialogue of miracles has been the objective of serious and infrequently ill-tempered assaults. during this booklet, one among our best historians of philosophy bargains a scientific reaction to those attacks.
Arguing that those criticisms have--from the very start--rested on misreadings, Robert Fogelin starts through offering a story of how Hume's argument really unfolds. What Hume's critics (and even a few of his defenders) have did not see is that Hume's fundamental argument is determined by solving the correct criteria of comparing testimony offered on behalf of a miracle. Given the definition of a miracle, Hume relatively kind of argues that the factors for comparing such testimony has to be super excessive. Hume then argues that, in truth, no testimony on behalf of a spiritual miracle has even come with regards to assembly the suitable criteria for attractiveness. Fogelin illustrates that Hume's critics have always 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 few early critics of Hume's argument after which to 2 contemporary critics, David Johnson and John Earman. Fogelin's aim, besides the fact that, isn't really to "bash the bashers," yet particularly 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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Extra info for A Defense of Hume on Miracles (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)
Hume 1932, letter 188)16 That said, Hume proceeds to respond to Campbell’s criticisms. Following Hume’s example, I will set aside Earman’s rhetorical excess and concentrate on three philosophically relevant ques- 42 CHAPTER TWO tions: How does Earman understand Hume’s position? What is his substantive criticism of it? and Is his criticism any good? As already noted, Earman identiﬁes and rejects what I have called the gross misreading of the text. First, he does not assert or assume that Hume intended to produce a complete, selfcontained argument in part 1.
TWO RECENT CRITICS 35 Not very. ” In the Enquiry Hume actually says little about how he understands the notion of a proof. In a footnote cited earlier, we saw that Hume amends Locke’s twofold classiﬁcation of arguments into demonstrations and probabilities, saying “to conform our language more to common use, we ought to divide arguments into demonstrations, proofs, and probabilities. ” In this passage Hume does not deny that there is a sharp division between arguments that are demonstrative and those that are not; he simply comments, quite rightly, that it sounds odd to speak of probabilities when the evidence cited leaves no practical room for doubt.
Hume’s example of eight days of darkness is intended to show that, given the right sort of testimony, the balance can shift, and principles with strong backing from past experience can be dominated by reliable evidence presenting counterinstances to them. Here a new question arises. If Hume acknowledges that, under certain circumstances at least, the occurrence of a miracle could be established by testimony, how can he defend himself against the charge of mere prejudice in treating testimony in behalf of religious miracles with special disfavor?