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Summary David Hume, in Of Miracles (Section X. of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding), claimed either that, because a miracle would be a ‘violation of the laws of nature’, miracles are impossible or that one cannot have a justified belief that a miracle occurred. This argument has evoked an enormous amount of discussion, both criticising the argument and endorsing the argument. It started right after the publication of Of Miracles and is still going on.
Key works Hume 1748 is the text where Hume presents the argument. Earman 2000 is a rather technical thorough criticism of the argument. Campbell 1839 is one of the many contemporary criticisms of the argument. Mackie 1982 endorses the argument.
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  1. William Adams (1752). An Essay in Answer to Mr. Hume's Essay on Miracles [From Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding].
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  2. Pietro Addante (1975). David Hume e il saggio « dei miracoli ». Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 80 (2):287-287.
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  3. Jonathan E. Adler (1994). Hume's “Of Miracles” (Part One). Inquiry 14 (2):1-10.
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  4. Dennis M. Ahern (1975). Hume on the Evidential Impossibility of Miracles. American Philosophical Quarterly:1 - 31.
    THE ESSAY "OF MIRACLES," IN ADDITION TO BEING ONE OF THE MOST PROVOKING SECTIONS OF HUME’S WRITINGS, IS ALSO ONE OF THE MOST WIDELY MISUNDERSTOOD. HUME CLAIMS HIS ARGUMENT IS SIMILAR TO AN ARGUMENT OF ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON, AND I EXPLORE THE PARALLEL BETWEEN THE TWO ARGUMENTS IN DETAIL. FUNDAMENTAL TO BOTH IS THE CONCEPT OF EVIDENTIAL IMPOSSIBILITY: A PROPOSITION, P, IS EVIDENTIALLY IMPOSSIBLE IF AND ONLY IF ALLEGED EVIDENCE FOR THE TRUTH OF P WOULD NOT BE EVIDENCE FOR P, WERE (...)
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  5. Stewart Alexander, Hume's Historical View of Miracles. (Chap.9).
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  6. Benjamin F. Armstrong (1995). Hume's Actual Argument Against Belief in Miracles. History of Philosophy Quarterly 12 (1):65 - 76.
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  7. Benjamin F. Armstrong (1992). Hume on Miracles: Begging-the-Question Against Believers. History of Philosophy Quarterly 9 (3):319 - 328.
    The best defence against the suggestion that Hume’s use of the laws of nature is question-begging is the both-sides-need-the-laws’ response in its variations. Efforts along these lines by Antony Flew, J L Mackie, and more recently J C Thornton are shown to fail. Hume intends to rule out miracles by ruling out, e.g., resurrections, not just rule out calling resurrections miracles’. The both-sides-need-the-laws’ objection can target only the latter and it fails to do even this.
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  8. Tina Baceski (2013). Hume on Art Critics, Wise Men, and the Virtues of Taste. Hume Studies 39 (2):233-256.
    In this paper I compare two models of expert judgment: the art critic in Hume’s “Of the Standard of Taste” and the “wise man” in “Of Miracles.” The art critic is a true judge of beauty because he has made himself into a person who is optimally receptive to beauty. He possesses the virtues of taste: “Strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice” . But the virtues of the art critic, (...)
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  9. Wilfried K. Backhaus (1993). Advantageous Falsehood. Philosophy and Theology 7 (3):289-310.
    In Hume’s Of Miracles the person movecl by faith is put in a dilemma between faith and reason . Can one resolve this dilemma as a compleat Humean? The answer is yes. Within the Humean context different approaches can be developed ta overcome Hume’s dilemma. One uses Hume’s theory of utility to defend the belief in the afterlife. The other requires Hume to place faith on a par with beauty and therefore among the passions to which reason must be a (...)
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  10. Matthew C. Bagger (1997). Hume and Miracles. Journal of the History of Philosophy 35 (2):237 - 251.
    "Hume and Miracles" relates Hume’s essay "Of Miracles" to the Port-Royal ’Logic’ and John Locke. It argues that Hume did not, as is often supposed, intend to suggest that well-attested miracle reports defeat themselves by undermining the laws of nature they defy. Instead, Hume argues that the specifically ’religious’ nature of the testimony relating to miracle claims rules out their acceptance because of the frequency of fraud in religious matters. Hume’s views are too austere because one might wish to reject (...)
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  11. David Basinger (1984). Miracles as Violations: Some Clarifications. Southern Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):1-7.
    SINCE THE TIME OF HUME, A MIRACLE HAS MOST FREQUENTLY BEEN DEFINED IN PHILOSOPHICAL CIRCLES AS A VIOLATION OF A NATURAL LAW CAUSED BY A GOD. I ARGUE THAT THERE IS A MEANINGFUL SENSE IN WHICH IT CAN BE SAID THAT A NATURAL LAW HAS BEEN VIOLATED. BUT I FURTHER ARGUE THAT SINCE AN EVENT CAN ONLY BE A VIOLATION IN THIS SENSE IF IT IS NOT CAUSED BY A GOD, NO MIRACLE CAN BE SAID TO BE A VIOLATION OF (...)
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  12. Steven M. Bayne (2007). Hume on Miracles: Would It Take a Miracle to Believe in a Miracle? Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):1-29.
    Given Hume’s theory of belief and belief production it is no small task to explain how it is possible for a belief in a miracle to be produced. I argue that belief in a miracle cannot be produced through Hume’s standard causal mechanisms and that although education, passion, and testimony initially seem to be promising mechanisms for producing belief in a miracle, none of these is able to produce the belief in amiracle. I conclude by explaining how this poses a (...)
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  13. Francis Beckwith (1989). David Hume's Argument Against Miracles: A Critical Analysis. Univ Pr of America.
    This book is a presentation and critical analysis of Hume’s argument against miracles. In addition, this work contains a critique of contemporary rehabilitations of Hume’s argument by Flew, Nowell-Smith, and McKinnon, and a defense of the kalam cosmological argument for God’s existence. The author concludes that the concept of miracle is perfectly coherent and that it is possible that one can enough evidence to be epistemically justified in believing that one has occurred. This book also includes a discussion on the (...)
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  14. Francis J. Beckwith (1991). Hume's Evidential/Testimonial Epistemology, Probability, and Miracles. Logos 12:87 - 104.
    In this paper I will critically analyze the first part of David Hume’s argument against miracles, which has been traditionally referred to as the in-principle argument. However, unlike most critiques of Hume’s argument, I will (1) present a view of evidential epistemology and probability that will take into consideration Hume’s accurate observation that miracles are highly improbable events while(2) arguing that one can be within one’s epistemic rights in believing that a miracle has occurred. As for the proper definition of (...)
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  15. Francis Joseph Beckwith (1989). David Hume's Argument Against Miracles: Contemporary Attempts to Rehabilitate It and a Response. Dissertation, Fordham University
    Chapter X of David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, "Of Miracles," is without a doubt the most influential work written in defense of the position that belief in supernatural occurrences is not reasonable. Using Hume's work as my point of departure, I have tried to answer the two most important epistemological questions asked about the miraculous: Is it ever reasonable to ascribe a divine source to an anomalous event in order to identify it as miraculous?; and What theoretically entails sufficient (...)
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  16. David Berman (1980). Hume and Collins on Miracles. Hume Studies 6 (2):150-154.
  17. Lloyd F. Bitzer (1998). The "Indian Prince" in Miracle Arguments of Hume and His Predecessors and Early Critics. Philosophy and Rhetoric 31 (3):175-230.
    This essay examines miracle arguments employing Hume?s "Indian prince" in works from Locke to Richard Price, and explains the relation of those arguments to Hume?s "Of Miracles." Miracle advocates aimed to weaken the authority of uniform experience and strengthen testimony, but their arguments, more skeptical than Hume?s, undermined their case for miracles. Hume?s early critics objected that: by his theory, no novel facts, including miracles, can be inferred; he mistakenly collapsed testimony into reasoning from experience; and, miracles are no more (...)
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  18. Larry Lee Blackman (1978). The Logical Impossibility of Miracles in Hume. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (3):179 - 187.
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  19. Gregory Bock (2010). Understanding David Hume’s Argument Against Miracles: Establishing a Religion on the Testimony of a Miracle. Philosophia Christi 12 (2):373-392.
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  20. C. D. Broad (1916). Hume's Theory of the Credibility of Miracles. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 17:77 - 94.
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  21. S. Buckle (2001). Marvels, Miracles, and Mundane Order. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (1):1 – 31.
    Hume’s critique of religion in the first ’Enquiry’ is a unified whole. ’Of Miracles’ is not a free-standing critique of religion, but the first part of a two-stage argument. Hume follows Locke in subordinating evidence for miracles to natural theological arguments for the existence of God--without such supports miraculous claims are incredible (’disproven’ in his special sense). He differs from Locke in arguing, in ’Of a particular Providence’, that no such arguments are available. The decline of natural theology after Darwin (...)
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  22. Joel M. Buenting (2005). The Rejection of Testimony and the Normative Recommendation of Non-Fallacious 'Ad Hominem' Arguments Based on Hume's 'Of Miracles' and Canadian Law. Auslegung 27 (2):1 - 16.
    I have argued for the conclusion that nonfallacious ’ad hominem’ arguments are desirable and to commit them is to commit acts of intellectual responsibility. Arguing against a person, when legitimate, is the prerogative of any rational being. Hume commits himself to the argument and commits himself to it only as a judicious inquisitor responsible for the veracity of his own beliefs. The desirability of nonfallacious ’ad hominem’ ’attacks’ is clear from their extensive use and rhetorical power in courts of law. (...)
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  23. George Campbell (1985). A Dissertation on Miracles, Containing an Examination of the Principles Advanced by David Hume, Esq. In an "Essay on Miracles.". Philosophy and Rhetoric 18 (3):189-193.
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  24. George Campbell (1839). A Dissertation on Miracles. Garland.
    An examination of the principles advanced by David Hume, Esq., in An Essay on Miracles; with a correspondence on the subject by Mr Hume, Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Blair. To which are added sermons and tracts. In 1763 Campbell published A Dissertation on Miracles which was intended as a demolition of Hume’s essay On miracles.
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  25. Thomas Carey (2007). Aquinas (and Hume) on Miracles: Some Thoughts. Think 15 (15):97 - 107.
    Aquinas and Hume view miracles in starkly contrasting ways, as Thomas Carey here explains.
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  26. Tristan Casabianca, The Shroud of Turin, the Resurrection of Jesus and the Realm of Science: One View of the Cathedral. Workshop on Advances in the Turin Shroud Investigation.
    In a topic as controversial as the shroud of Turin, it is always surprising to notice that there still exists a large area of consensus among scholars holding opposite opinions on the topic. According to the consensus view, neither science nor history can ever prove that the Turin Shroud shows signs of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the reasons given for such an important claim are not convincing, especially in regard of recent developments in historiography and analytic philosophy.
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  27. E. 0c Chaves (1977). Milagres, a Historia E a Ciencia: Uma Andlise Do Argumento de Hume. Manuscrito 1:25-43.
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  28. Steve Clarke (1999). Hume's Definition of Miracles Revised. American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (1):49 - 57.
    It is argued that Hume’s definition of miracle stands in need of revision because it fails to be inclusive of acts of supernatural intervention in the world which are non-law-violating. Potential revisions of the definition, due to Paul Dietl and Christopher Hughes are considered and found to be inadequate, and a new definition is put forward; a miracle is "an intended outcome of an intervention in the natural world by a supernatural agent." An objection to this definition is anticipated and (...)
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  29. Dorothy P. Coleman (1988). Hume, Miracles and Lotteries. Hume Studies 14 (2):328-346.
    THIS PAPER ANSWERS RECENT CRITICISMS OF HUME’S SKEPTICISM WITH REGARD TO MIRACLES BY THOSE WHO ARGUE THAT THERE ARE COUNTEREXAMPLES, ILLUSTRATED BY LOTTERIES, TO HUME’S ACCOUNT OF HOW THE TRUTH OF REPORTS ABOUT IMPROBABLE EVENTS MUST BE EVALUATED. THE AUTHOR FIRST SHOWS THAT THESE ARGUMENTS ARE ANALOGOUS TO BUTLER’S CRITICISM OF HUME’S PREDECESSORS IN THE DEBATE ABOUT MIRACLES. IT IS THEN ARGUED THAT EACH OF THESE CRITICISMS COLLAPSES THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PROBABILITIES PERTAINING TO EVENTS QUA UNIQUE OCCURRENCES AND PROBABILITIES PERTAINING (...)
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  30. Gary Colwell (1982). On Defining Away the Miraculous. Philosophy 57 (221):327 - 337.
    HUME AND HIS FOLLOWERS HAVE TRIED UNSUCCESSFULLY TO ESTABLISH THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF MIRACLES BY APPEALING SOLELY TO THE DEFINITIONS OF MIRACLE AND NATURAL LAW. HUME’S ARGUMENT TRADES UPON THAT PART OF THE DEFINITION OF MIRACLE WHICH PERTAINS TO THE NUMERICAL INSIGNIFICANCE OF MIRACULOUS EVENTS. HE DID NOT REALIZE THAT THE LARGE NUMERICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NON-REPEATABLE IRREGULAR EVENTS AND REPEATABLE REGULAR ONES LOGICALLY CANNOT BE USED AS A CRITERION BY WHICH TO DETERMINE THE EXISTENTIAL STATUS OF NUMERICALLY SMALL NON-REPEATABLE IRREGULAR EVENTS. (...)
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  31. Patrick Corrigan (1990). Hume and the Problem of Miracles. Review of Metaphysics 44 (2):423-424.
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  32. James Danaher (2012). David Hume and Jonathan Edwards On Reason, Miracles, and Religious Faith. Philosophical Inquiry 23 (3/4):141-152.
  33. James P. Danaher (2001). David Hume and Jonathan Edwards on Miracles and Religious Faith. Southwest Philosophy Review 17 (2):13-24.
    David Hume (1711-1776) and Jonathan Edwards (1703- 1758) had very different reputations concerning the Christian faith. In spite of this, they both had very similar positions concerning miracles and the supernatural. It is argued that although Hume rejects one type of miracle, he acknowledges another type. Edwards does essentially the same thing and rejects the same kind of miracle that Hume rejects, while acknowledging the kind of miracles that Hume acknowledges.
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  34. Philip Dawid & Donald Gillies (1989). A Bayesian Analysis of Hume's Argument Concerning Miracles. Philosophical Quarterly 39 (154):57-65.
  35. John M. DePoe (2008). Vindicating a Bayesian Approach to Confirming Miracles: A Response to Jordan Howard Sobel's Reading of Hume. Philosophia Christi 10 (1):229 - 238.
    This paper defends a Bayesian approach to confirming a miracle against Jordan Howard Sobel’s recent novel interpretation of Hume’s criticisms. In his book, ’Logic and Theism’, Sobel offers an intriguing and original way to apply Hume’s criticisms against the possibility of having sufficient evidence to confirm a miracle. The key idea behind Sobel’s approach is to employ infinitesimal probabilities to neutralize the cumulative effects of positive evidence for any miracle. This paper aims to undermine Sobel’s use of infinitesimal probabilities to (...)
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  36. Paul Dicken (2011). On Some Limitations of Humean Disagreement: Miraculous Testimony and Contrary Religions. Sophia 50 (3):345-355.
    As part of his wider critique of the credibility of miraculous testimony, Hume also offers a rather curious argument as to the mutual detriment of conflicting testimony for the miracles of contrary religious worldviews. Scholarship on this aspect of Hume’s reasoning has debated whether or not the considerations are to be understood as essentially probabilistic, and as to whether or not a probabilistic interpretation of the argument is logically valid. The consensus would appear to offer a positive answer to the (...)
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  37. Georg J. W. Dorn (1987). Zu Bolzanos Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre. Philosophia Naturalis 24 (4):423–441.
    Bolzano hat seine Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre in 15 Punkten im § 14 des zweiten Teils seiner Religionswissenschaft sowie in 20 Punkten im § 161 des zweiten Bandes seiner Wissenschaftslehre niedergelegt. (Ich verweise auf die Religionswissenschaft mit 'RW II', auf die Wissenschaftslehre mit 'WL II'.) In der RW II (vgl. p. 37) ist seine Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre eingebettet in seine Ausführungen "Über die Natur der historischen Erkenntniß, besonders in Hinsicht auf Wunder", und die Lehrsätze, die er dort zusammenstellt, dienen dem ausdrücklichen Zweck, mit mathematischem Rüstzeug (...)
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  38. Travis Dumsday (2008). Religious Experience. International Philosophical Quarterly 48 (3):371-379.
    Hume’s destructive account of miracles has been thought by many to exclude the possibility of rationally accepting testimony to supernatural events. Here I argue that even if one grants that his argument works with respect to testimony about miracles, it does not succeed in showing that all testimony to the supernatural is inadmissible, since room is left open for religious experiences, especially those of an intersubjective kind, to function as evidence. If this is so, there is new reason to think (...)
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  39. John Earman (2002). Bayes, Hume, Price, and Miracles. In Richard Swinburne (ed.), Bayes’s Theorem. Oxford University Press. 91--110.
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  40. John Earman (2000). Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles. Oxford University Press.
    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 18th 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 (...)
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  41. John Earman (1993). Bayes, Hume, and Miracles. Faith and Philosophy 10 (3):293-310.
    Recent attempts to cast Hume’s argument against miracles in a Bayesian form are examined. It is shown how the Bayesian apparatus does serve to clarify the structure and substance of Hume’s argument. But the apparatus does not underwrite Hume’s various claims, such as that no testimony serves to establish the credibility of a miracle; indeed, the Bayesian analysis reveals various conditions under which it would be reasonable to reject the more interesting of Hume’s claims.
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  42. Joseph Ellin (1993). Again: Hume on Miracles. Hume Studies 19 (1):203-212.
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  43. Kenneth G. Ferguson (1992). An Intervention Into the Flew/Fogelin Debate. Hume Studies 18 (1):105-112.
    Robert Fogelin has forcefully argued that Hume intended to produce an "a priori" argument to show that miracles are logically impossible, while Anthony Flew is noted for a conflicting view that Hume intended merely to urge caution in accepting miracles solely on the basis of testimony. I furnish text ("Enquiry", Chapter X) which lends aid and comfort to both. But Fogelin’s interpretation forbids "miracles" only under a strict definition, whereas the empirical arguments favored by Flew are also needed if particular (...)
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  44. Richard L. Fern (1982). Hume's Critique of Miracles: An Irrelevant Triumph. Religious Studies 18 (3):337 - 354.
    AS HUME SAW, THE EXTREME ABNORMALITY OF AN EVENT, E, CAN NEVER BY ITSELF JUSTIFY THE BELIEF THAT E HAS NO NATURAL EXPLANATION. HUME’S NEGATIVE CHARACTERIZATION OF SUPERNATURAL POWER, HOWEVER, OBSCURES THE WAY ABNORMALITY MAY COMBINE WITH APPARENT PURPOSEFULNESS TO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR THE BELIEF THAT E IS A MIRACLE. THE PERSUASIVENESS OF THIS SUPPORT WILL DEPEND NOT ONLY ON THE NATURE OF E BUT, ALSO, THE REASONABLENESS OF BELIEF IN A MIRACLE-WORKING DEITY.
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  45. James Fieser (1998). Hume on Miracles_, And: Hume on Natural Religion. [REVIEW] Hume Studies 24 (1):195-200.
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  46. Antony Flew (1990). Fogelin on Hume on Miracles. Hume Studies 16 (2):141-144.
    This reply to Fogelin argues, simply but sharply, that my view of what Hume was doing in Section X of his first Enquiry and not Fogelin’s is correct, and was also Hume’s own view, as there stated.
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  47. Antony Flew (1986). Hume's Philosophy of Religion. Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 20 (Supplement):129-146.
    THIS SURVEY WAS ORIGINALLY COMPOSED FOR (IN US TERMS) SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO ARE PREPARING FOR A NEWLY ESTABLISHED EXAMINATION IN PHILOSOPHY. ONE OF THE SET-BOOKS PRESCRIBED FOR THIS COURSE IS HUME’S FIRST "INQUIRY". "HUME’S PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION" THEREFORE CONTAINS NO MATERIAL NOT ALTERNATIVELY AVAILABLE: EITHER IN "HUME’S PHILOSOPHY OF BELIEF" (LONDON: ROUTLEDGE AND KEGAN PAUL, 1961); OR IN "DAVID HUME": "PHILOSOPHER OF MORAL SCIENCE" (OXFORD: BLACKWELL, 1986).
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  48. Antony Flew (1979). The Red Queen at Substraction? Hume Studies 5 (2):110-111.
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  49. Antony Flew (1959). Hume's Check. Philosophical Quarterly 9 (34):1-18.
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  50. Robert J. Fogelin (2003). A Defense of Hume on Miracles. Princeton Univ Pr.
    Arguing that criticisms have--from the very start--rested on misreadings, Fogelin begins by providing a narrative of the way Hume’s argument actually unfolds. What Hume’s critics (and even some of his defenders) have failed to see is that Hume’s primary argument depends on fixing the appropriate standards of evaluating testimony presented on behalf of a miracle. Given the definition of a miracle, Hume quite reasonably argues that the standards for evaluating such testimony must be extremely high. Hume then argues that, as (...)
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