By Robert J. Fogelin
Given that its book within the mid-eighteenth century, Hume's dialogue of miracles has been the objective of serious and sometimes ill-tempered assaults. during this booklet, certainly one of our major 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 off via supplying 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 depends upon solving the precise criteria of comparing testimony offered on behalf of a miracle. Given the definition of a miracle, Hume fairly quite argues that the criteria for comparing such testimony needs to be tremendous excessive. Hume then argues that, in general, no testimony on behalf of a spiritual miracle has even come just about assembly the fitting criteria for recognition. Fogelin illustrates that Hume's critics have constantly 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 fresh critics, David Johnson and John Earman. Fogelin's target, even though, isn't to "bash the bashers," yet relatively to teach that Hume's remedy of miracles has a coherence, intensity, and gear that makes it nonetheless the simplest paintings at the topic.
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Extra info for A Defense of Hume on Miracles (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)
How are we to explain this reticence if he believes himself in possession of a knockdown argument in favor of the unconditional rejection of miracles? Beyond this, the discussion of proofs confronting proofs—the central theme of part 1— would be out of place if a deeper argument existed that settled the issue straight off. Indeed, the entire discussion of testimony would appear otiose if it were possible to show, seemingly on a priori grounds, that no miracle has ever occurred, for then it would be a mere triviality that no testimony is ever sufﬁcient to establish the occurrence of a miraculous event.
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. It is easy to see how the crude version of the straight rule that Earman attributes to Hume, combined with the above theorem of conditional probability, leads to disaster.
Johnson could, of course, point out that he is not the only one who has taken part 1 as a self-contained philosophical argument—many of Hume’s supporters share this view. This may, indeed, be the majority view. If the textual analysis offered above is correct, then the majority view is just wrong. Suppose, however, we go along with Johnson’s self-contained view of part 1. How well, under this assumption, does he do? TWO RECENT CRITICS 35 Not very. ” In the Enquiry Hume actually says little about how he understands the notion of a proof.
A Defense of Hume on Miracles (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy) by Robert J. Fogelin