BenzWorld Senior Member
Date registered: Sep 2003
Vehicle: 300d, 409d
Location: Denver, CO USA
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RE: Coulter headlamps and shoots some baited pond ducks
[QUOTE]jjl - 11/8/2004 6:37 PM
Humes argument is convincing, but doesn't it focus on pragmatism rather than certainty: if there really are miracles in say 0.0001% of cases, then applying this makes us wrong 0.0001% of the time. Another difficulty is if we encounter a technology beyond or own ('indistiguisable from magic' - Arthur C Clarke) perfoming what appear to be miracles - again we would be wrong, but in the other direction. What do you think?
You're right. Hume bases knowledge on experience and it does cause that problem. New odd events
are unexplainable. However, we should adapt our knowledge to account for these new experiences.
But, he does have a definitive argument against the rationality of belief in miracles understood as violations of natural law. Since natural laws are built up on the basis of repeated observations, the evidence for these laws will always exceed the evidence for the exceptions. If the evidence for the exceptions becomes overwhelming, the natural law is restated in order to account for the formerly miraculous. So, there's no room for rational belief in miracles.
By the way, I've become more interested in the Scottish Enlightenment recently and am thinking of teaching a Humanities class on it and taking students to Scotland. The geology professor at school is interested in hooking up with me. He would focus on James Hutton and I would teach Hume, Smith Hutcheson and Reid. (I know very little of Reid and Hutcheson at the moment) I was inspired to think about it by an article in the New Yorker about how great a city Edinburgh was in the 18th century