Skip to Main Content
Student Activities 2009-2010

Andrew Brenner

Hume on Miracles
14th Annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Abstract: How should one evaluate the evidential import of testimony to an event, the occurrence of which would be a violation of a law of nature? "Of Miracles," which is Section 10 of Hume's "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding," is one famous attempt to answer this question. Hume's goal is to undermine the evidential basis of those religions that rely on the occurrence of miracles, which Hume construes as violations of natural laws. In this essay I'll summarize Hume's argument, and then proceed to a critical discussion of the two most plausible interpretations thereof. I conclude that neither of these interpretations of Hume achieves his goal. Neither of these interpretations is a successful argument against the possibility of having strong evidence for the occurrence of miracles.