Frank Cabrera
Milwaukee School of Engineering
In this paper, I examine Cicero’s oft-neglected De Divinatione, a dialogue investigating the legitimacy of the practice of divination. First, I offer a novel analysis of the main arguments for divination given by Quintus, highlighting the fact that he employs two logically distinct argument forms. Next, I turn to the first of the main arguments against divination given by Marcus. Here I show, with the help of modern probabilistic tools, that Marcus’ skeptical response is far from the decisive, proto-naturalistic assault on superstition that it is sometimes portrayed to be. Then, I offer an extended analysis of the second of the main arguments against divination given by Marcus. Inspired by Marcus’ second main argument, I formulate, explicate, and defend a substantive principle of scientific methodology that I call the “Ciceronian Causal-Nomological Requirement” (CCR). Roughly, this principle states that causal knowledge is essential for relying on correlations in predictive inference. Although I go on to argue that Marcus’ application of the CCR in his debate with Quintus is dialectically inadequate, I conclude that De Divinatione deserves its place in Cicero’s philosophical corpus, and that ultimately, its significance for the history and philosophy of science ought to be recognized.
Keywords Cicero  Divination  Bayesianism   Inference to the Best Explanation  Causal Knowledge   Predictive Inference
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2019.12.004
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Brutus.Marcus Tullius Cicero - 1950 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cicero's Philosophy of History.Matthew Fox - 2007 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
194 ( #54,945 of 2,455,406 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
45 ( #17,763 of 2,455,406 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes