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David Hume and the Probability of Miracles

David Hume and the Probability of Miracles David Hume and the Probability of Miracles 1. Introduction Oflate there have been published several discussions ofDavid Hume's famous essay "Of Miracles" which attempt to make precise the reasoning it contains. This, it turns out, requires the use of certain mathematical rules and theorems of the probability calculus which first published. It is suggested, in particular, that the claims he made were unknown to Hume or, indeed, to anyone else when the essay was can best be understood in the light of a theorem of the probability calculus which we now name after a celebrated eighteenth century probabilist, Thomas Bayes. However, the so-called "Bayesian" interpretation of the argument against miracles misrepresents Hume's reasoning in that the manner in which he expressed his thinking does not fit such an interpretation. Moreover, this error needs to be rectified, not just because it involves a mistaken view about the past but, more importantly, because it obscures the legacy of a different mode of thinking evident in Hume's writing about probabilistic inference which deserves to be recovered. Our thinking i s impoverished ifcertain presumptions about probability become so entrenched that we have great difficulty in seeing them as anything other than obvious. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

David Hume and the Probability of Miracles

Hume Studies , Volume 16 (1) – Jan 26, 1990

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Publisher
Hume Society
Copyright
Copyright © Hume Society
ISSN
1947-9921
Publisher site
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Abstract

David Hume and the Probability of Miracles 1. Introduction Oflate there have been published several discussions ofDavid Hume's famous essay "Of Miracles" which attempt to make precise the reasoning it contains. This, it turns out, requires the use of certain mathematical rules and theorems of the probability calculus which first published. It is suggested, in particular, that the claims he made were unknown to Hume or, indeed, to anyone else when the essay was can best be understood in the light of a theorem of the probability calculus which we now name after a celebrated eighteenth century probabilist, Thomas Bayes. However, the so-called "Bayesian" interpretation of the argument against miracles misrepresents Hume's reasoning in that the manner in which he expressed his thinking does not fit such an interpretation. Moreover, this error needs to be rectified, not just because it involves a mistaken view about the past but, more importantly, because it obscures the legacy of a different mode of thinking evident in Hume's writing about probabilistic inference which deserves to be recovered. Our thinking i s impoverished ifcertain presumptions about probability become so entrenched that we have great difficulty in seeing them as anything other than obvious.

Journal

Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 1990

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