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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.
Introductions Larmer 1988
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  1. An Essay in Answer to Mr. Hume's Essay on Miracles [From Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding].William Adams - 1752
  2. David Hume e il saggio « dei miracoli ».Pietro Addante - 1975 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 80 (2):287-287.
  3. Hume's “Of Miracles” (Part One).Jonathan E. Adler - 1994 - Inquiry 14 (2):1-10.
  4. Hume’s “Of Miracles”.Jonathan E. Adler - 1994 - Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 14 (2):1-10.
  5. Hume on the Evidential Impossibility of Miracles.Dennis M. Ahern - 1975 - 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 (...)
  6. Hume and the Independent Witnesses.Arif Ahmed - 2015 - Mind 124 (496):1013-1044.
    The Humean argument concerning miracles says that one should always think it more likely that anyone who testifies to a miracle is lying or deluded than that the alleged miracle actually occurred, and so should always reject any single report of it. A longstanding and widely accepted objection is that even if this is right, the concurring and non-collusive testimony of many witnesses should make it rational to believe in whatever miracle they all report. I argue that on the contrary, (...)
  7. Hume's Historical View of Miracles.Alexander Stewart - unknown
  8. Hume's Actual Argument Against Belief in Miracles.Benjamin F. Armstrong - 1995 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 12 (1):65 - 76.
  9. Hume on Miracles: Begging-the-Question Against Believers.Benjamin F. Armstrong - 1992 - 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.
  10. Advantageous Falsehood.Wilfried K. Backhaus - 1993 - 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 (...)
  11. Hume and Miracles.Matthew C. Bagger - 1997 - 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 (...)
  12. Miracles as Violations: Some Clarifications.David Basinger - 1984 - 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 (...)
  13. Hume on Miracles: Would It Take a Miracle to Believe in a Miracle?Steven M. Bayne - 2007 - 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 (...)
  14. Robert Fogelin's A Defense of Hume on Miracles. [REVIEW]John Beaudoin - 2004 - Journal of Value Inquiry 38 (2):281-284.
  15. David Hume's Argument Against Miracles: A Critical Analysis.Francis Beckwith - 1989 - 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 (...)
  16. Hume's Evidential/Testimonial Epistemology, Probability, and Miracles.Francis J. Beckwith - 1991 - 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 (...)
  17. David Hume's Argument Against Miracles: Contemporary Attempts to Rehabilitate It and a Response.Francis Joseph Beckwith - 1989 - 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 (...)
  18. Hume and Collins on Miracles.David Berman - 1980 - Hume Studies 6 (2):150-154.
  19. The "Indian Prince" in Miracle Arguments of Hume and His Predecessors and Early Critics.Lloyd F. Bitzer - 1998 - 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 (...)
  20. The Logical Impossibility of Miracles in Hume.Larry Lee Blackman - 1978 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (3):179 - 187.
  21. Understanding David Hume’s Argument Against Miracles: Establishing a Religion on the Testimony of a Miracle.Gregory Bock - 2010 - Philosophia Christi 12 (2):373-392.
  22. Hume's Theory of the Credibility of Miracles.C. D. Broad - 1916 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 17:77 - 94.
  23. Marvels, Miracles, and Mundane Order.S. Buckle - 2001 - 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 (...)
  24. The Rejection of Testimony and the Normative Recommendation of Non-Fallacious 'Ad Hominem' Arguments Based on Hume's 'Of Miracles' and Canadian Law.Joel M. Buenting - 2005 - 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. (...)
  25. The Great Debate on Miracles: From Joseph Glanvill to David Hume.R. M. Burns - 1981 - Associated University Presses.
  26. The Hume–Edwards Principle.James Cain - 1995 - Religious Studies 31 (3):323.
    In such a chain too, or succession of objects, each part is caused by that which preceded it, and causes that which succeeds it. Where then is the difficulty? But the WHOLE, you say, wants a cause. I answer, that the uniting of these parts into a whole, like the uniting of several distinct counties into one kingdom, or several distinct members into one body, is performed merely by an arbitrary act of the mind, and has no influence on the (...)
  27. A Dissertation on Miracles, Containing an Examination of the Principles Advanced by David Hume, Esq. In an "Essay on Miracles.".George Campbell - 1985 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 18 (3):189-193.
  28. A Dissertation on Miracles.George Campbell - 1839 - 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.
  29. Aquinas on Miracles: Some Thoughts.Thomas Carey - 2007 - Think 15 (15):97-107.
    Aquinas and Hume view miracles in starkly contrasting ways, as Thomas Carey here explains.
  30. Le Linceul de Turin.Tristan Casabianca - 2016 - Bastia: Anima Corsa.
    En 2015, plus d'un million de personnes s'est pressé pour se recueillir, pour prier ou pour simplement passer devant un ancien drap de lin : le linceul (ou suaire) de Turin. La raison de son pouvoir d'attraction est simple : il est réputé avoir enveloppé le cadavre de Jésus de Nazareth après sa crucifixion à Jérusalem. Et pourtant, à première vue, peu de choses se décèlent sur ce grand rectangle de plusieurs mètres de long : simplement l'image, de face et (...)
  31. Turin Shroud, Resurrection and Science: One View of the Cathedral.Tristan Casabianca - 2016 - New Blackfriars 98 (1073).
    In a topic as controversial as the Turin Shroud, it is always surprising to note that there remains a large area of consensus among scholars who hold opposite opinions on the origin of this piece of fabric. According to the consensus view, neither science nor history can prove that the Turin Shroud shows signs of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the reasons provided for this important claim are not convincing, especially in light of recent developments in historiography and (...)
  32. Is Hume's Critique of Induction Self‐Defeating?Charles Cassini - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 55 (1).
  33. Milagres, a Historia E a Ciencia: Uma Andlise Do Argumento de Hume.E. 0c Chaves - 1977 - Manuscrito 1:25-43.
  34. Hume's Definition of Miracles Revised.Steve Clarke - 1999 - 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 (...)
  35. Hume, Miracles and Lotteries.Dorothy P. Coleman - 1988 - 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 (...)
  36. On Defining Away the Miraculous.Gary Colwell - 1982 - 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. (...)
  37. Hume and the Problem of Miracles.Patrick Corrigan - 1990 - Review of Metaphysics 44 (2):423-424.
  38. David Hume and Jonathan Edwards On Reason, Miracles, and Religious Faith.James Danaher - 2001 - Philosophical Inquiry 23 (3/4):141-152.
  39. David Hume and Jonathan Edwards on Miracles and Religious Faith.James P. Danaher - 2001 - 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.
  40. A Bayesian Analysis of Hume's Argument Concerning Miracles.Philip Dawid & Donald Gillies - 1989 - Philosophical Quarterly 39 (154):57-65.
  41. The No Miracles Argument Without the Base Rate Fallacy.Richard Dawid & Stephan Hartmann - forthcoming - Synthese:1-17.
    According to an argument by Colin Howson, the no-miracles argument is contingent on committing the base-rate fallacy and is therefore bound to fail. We demonstrate that Howson’s argument only applies to one of two versions of the NMA. The other version, which resembles the form in which the argument was initially presented by Putnam and Boyd, remains unaffected by his line of reasoning. We provide a formal reconstruction of that version of the NMA and show that it is valid. Finally, (...)
  42. Vindicating a Bayesian Approach to Confirming Miracles: A Response to Jordan Howard Sobel's Reading of Hume.John M. DePoe - 2008 - 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 (...)
  43. On Some Limitations of Humean Disagreement: Miraculous Testimony and Contrary Religions.Paul Dicken - 2011 - 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 (...)
  44. Zu Bolzanos Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre.Georg J. W. Dorn - 1987 - 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 (...)
  45. Religious Experience.Travis Dumsday - 2008 - 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 (...)
  46. Bayes, Hume, Price, and Miracles.John Earman - 2002 - In Richard Swinburne (ed.), Bayes’s Theorem. Oxford University Press. pp. 91--110.
    This chapter discusses the Bayesian analysis of miracles. It is set in the context of the eighteenth-century debate on miracles. The discussion is focused on the probable response of Thomas Bayes to David Hume's celebrated argument against miracles. The chapter presents the claim that the criticisms Richard Price made against Hume's argument against miracles were largely solid.
  47. Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles.John Earman - 2000 - 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 (...)
  48. Bayes, Hume, and Miracles.John Earman - 1993 - 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.
  49. Again: Hume on Miracles.Joseph Ellin - 1993 - Hume Studies 19 (1):203-212.
  50. An Intervention Into the Flew/Fogelin Debate.Kenneth G. Ferguson - 1992 - 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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