Miraculous Belief: David Hume on the Possibility of Miracles

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Stephen Wagner, Philosophy


"Of Miracles," by David Hume, has been a hotbed of debate since its publication in 1748. In this paper, I argue for a reading of Hume's essay that takes Part I and Part II as a continuous argument, in which Hume formulates a method in Part I and applies the method to historical miracle claims in Part II. I also focus on the misinterpretations of Hume's critics and discuss how, using Hume's epistemological framework, we can come to a better understanding of the essay. In concluding, I show how Hume's methodology has practical implications for assessing any historical miracle claim based on testimony and discuss these implications for many religions founded on miraculous events.

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