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Hume's Posteriori Argument against Miracles Is not Valid - Essay Example

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Hume's Posteriori Argument against Miracles Is not Valid

The ‘a posteriori argument’ states that even if miracles were a possibility according to evidence, they in fact, have never occurred (Johnson & Anthony, 72). Hume’s ‘a posteriori argument’ has some merit from a general perspective, they are problematic from the perspective of an individual miracle test-case, i.e., the alleged resurrection of Jesus. I will argue that although the first of Hume’s three ‘a posteriori argument’s succeeds in showing that there may be no miracle proofs, it doesn’t show that there is not a sufficient probability for establishing our test case. Anti-Thesis In his first argument from a posteriori considerations, Hume sets out the qualitative requirements of a proof and a successful probability for a miracle along with the quantitative requirements of a miracle proof, and he argues for the (implied) thesis that the quantitative requirements of a proof have not been satisfied (Hume, Enquiry, 116-117). For Hume, the following qualitative conditions are required for a good individual miracle-testimony: the witness must be highly educated, socially outstanding, patently honest, have lots to lose by lying, and be situated in such circumstances that, if lying, exposure would readily result. But also, according to Hume, a "full assurance" i.e., a proof-based on the satisfaction of these qualitative conditions is not forthcoming, since there has not been "a sufficient number" of conjoinings of qualitatively good individual miracle-testimonies with the miraculous objects of those testimonies (Hume, Enquiry, 56,58). Thus, in defense of the thesis that the testimony for a miracle does not amount to a proof, he points out that there have not been enough witnesses who have these qualifications. Although Hume does not in "Of Miracles" defend his list of qualifications of a good witness, it is reasonable to think that Hume built up these criteria by his observation of human nature in many circumstances quite independently of miracle reports. As Hume points out in the introduction of his A Treatise of Human Nature, We must… glean up our experiments in this [study of human nature] from a cautious observation of human life, and take them as they appear in the common course of the world, by men's behaviour in company, in affairs, and in their pleasures (p. xix). In view of Hume's weigh scales consisting of opposing frequencies of constant conjoinings-now with those of the allegedly violated natural law on the one side and those of testimonies and their objects on the other-the implication of Hume's assertion is that the scales are heavier on the side of natural law (i.e., natural law descriptive of the physical, non-human world). Response to Anti-thesis Recall that Hume's first ‘a posteriori argument’ holds that there is in fact no miracle proof because history gives us no miracle attested by (1) a sufficient number of (2) highly educated, (3) socially outstanding, (4) patently honest men who have (5) lots to lose by lying and who are (6) situated in such circumstances that, if lying, exposure would readily result (Hume, Enquiry, 116-117). I will examine each of these criteria of credible testimony individually and with respect to our miracle test- case, i.e., the alleged resurrection of Jesus. 1. No sufficient number is not sufficient for ...Show more

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[Author’s Name] Hume’s Posteriori Argument against Miracles is not Valid Introduction In this essay “On Miracles,” Hume argues against the miraculous (Mossner 64). His argument is divided into two parts, his a priori (before the experience) argument of part I, and his a posteriori (after the experience) argument of part II…
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Humes Posteriori Argument against Miracles Is not Valid essay example
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