Miracles and the Uniformity of Nature

American Philosophical Quarterly 26 (4):333 - 342 (1989)

Abstract
IN SECTION X OF "AN INQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING", DAVID HUME RAISES TWO QUESTIONS ABOUT MIRACLES AND THEIR RELATION TO TESTIMONY. FIRST, HE ASKS WHETHER IT COULD EVER BE REASONABLE TO BELIEVE ON THE BASIS OF TESTIMONY THAT NATURE DOES NOT FIT THE IMAGE OF OUR SCIENCE, AND, SECOND, HE ASKS WHETHER IT COULD EVER BE REASONABLE TO BELIEVE ON THE BASIS OF TESTIMONY THAT NATURE IS NOT UNIFORM. HUME’S ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION IS ’YES’ AND HIS ANSWER TO THE SECOND IS ’NO’. HUME THINKS THAT A ’NO’ TO THE SECOND QUESTION SHOWS THAT BELIEF IN THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS LESS REASONABLE THAN A BELIEF IN MODERN SCIENCE. HOWEVER, HUME’S ’NO’ SEEMS TO OPPOSE HIS EMPIRICISM AND HIS BELIEF THAT THERE ARE NO NECESSARY TRUTHS ABOUT ANY MATTER OF FACT OR EXPERIENCE. THE POINT OF THIS PAPER IS TO SHOW THAT HUME CAN PROVE THAT THERE CAN BE NO TESTIMONY OF SUCH A QUANTITY OR QUALITY TO MAKE IT REASONABLE TO BELIEVE THAT NATURE IS NOT UNIFORM AND, AS RESULT, NO TESTIMONY TO MAKE IT REASONABLE TO
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