David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 82 (3):359 - 375 (1996)
Hume’s famous argument against the credibility of testimony about miracles invokes two premises: 1) The reliability of the witness (the extent to which he is informed and truthful) must be compared with the intrinsic probability of the miracle. 2) The initial probability of a miracle is always small enough to outweigh the improbability that the testimony is false (even when the witness is assumed to be reliable). I defend the first premise of the argument, showing that Hume’s argument can be applied to purported observations of miracles, as well. I then show that Hume failed to provide an adequate support for his second premise. A more cogent defence can be provided for a weaker premise. The resultant argument has, consequently, a less sweeping conclusion than Hume’s
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Aviezer Tucker (2005). Miracles, Historical Testimonies, and Probabilities. History and Theory 44 (3):373–390.
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