Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Wright, John P.,

Keywords

Philosophy.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to gain an accurate appreciation of the force of David Hume's arguments against reasonable belief in the truth of miracle reports (in particular, reports concerning the alleged resurrection of Jesus). To avoid the possibility of misrepresenting Hume's arguments, which are found in his essay "Of Miracles," I expend considerable effort in attempting to interpret them fairly and charitably. Because an important claim in Part One of his two-part essay is understood by Hume in private correspondence to mean something significantly different from its obvious meaning; because Hume does not bother to change the claim in any of the multiple editions of the essay; and because each of the meanings allows the argument of Part One to be interpreted differently yet coherently with respect to the arguments of Part Two and with respect to broader contextual considerations: I set out two micro-interpretations of the argument of Part One and two macro-interpretations of the arguments in "Of Miracles" as a whole. Also, by close attention to the text of Hume's arguments as well as to his understanding of the concepts of proof and probability vis-a-vis the evidence for and against miracle, (1) I show that Hume's argument of Part One centres on the fact that our experience of a miracle is infrequent relative to our experience of the natural law the miracle purports to violate, and (2) I show that Hume takes our experience of the allegedly-violated natural law as bearing completely, directly, and destructively on the credibility of miracle testimony. I show too that along with his arguments of Part Two, Hume takes the destructive experiential effect of the relative infrequency of a miracle to be a practically insurmountable barrier to the credibility of miracle reports. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 33-04, page: 1099. Supervisor: John P. Wright. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1994.

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