David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
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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References found in this work BETA
Wesley Salmon (1984). Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World. Princeton University Press.
L. Jonathan Cohen (1981). Can Human Irrationality Be Experimentally Demonstrated? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (3):317-370.
William P. Alston (1993). The Reliability of Sense Perception. Cornell University Press.
L. Jonathan Cohen (1986). The Dialogue of Reason. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Aviezer Tucker (2005). Miracles, Historical Testimonies, and Probabilities. History and Theory 44 (3):373–390.
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