Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement

Papers

Twenty Questions about Hume's “Of Miracles”*

Peter Millicana1

a1 Hertford College, Oxford

Hume's essay on the credibility of miracle reports has always been controversial, with much debate over how it should be interpreted, let alone assessed. My aim here is to summarise what I take to be the most plausible views on these issues, both interpretative and philosophical, with references to facilitate deeper investigation if desired. The paper is divided into small sections, each headed by a question that provides a focus. Broadly speaking, §§1–3 and §20 are on Hume's general philosophical framework within which the essay is situated, §§4–11 and §19 are on Part 1, §12–18 are on Part 2, and the final three sections §§18–20 sum up my assessment of his arguments.

* This paper was completed whilst enjoying the delightful hospitality and stimulating environment of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at Edinburgh, in the role of Illumni David Hume Fellow. I am profoundly grateful to the Edinburgh Illumni and to IASH for giving me this opportunity. I should also like to express my appreciation of innumerable helpful discussions with members of the excellent Hume Society, with particular thanks to Lorne Falkenstein, Don Garrett, and David Owen.