George I. Mavrodes

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195138092
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835348 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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This chapter discusses the miraculous largely in the context of Western philosophy of religion and therefore largely in the context of a concern with Christianity. The main elements of the discussion are: (1) A definition of the miraculous, basically a modified version of David Hume’s notion of a divinely caused violation of a law of nature; (2) a brief discussion of the main functions which religious thought (mainly Christian) seems to assign to miracles. I divide these roles into two categories. One involves some epistemic effect, such as providing someone with a basis or justification for belief. The other involves some other, non-epistemic, effect, such as providing physical healing,spiritual salvation, etc. (3) A further discussion of epistemic concerns, mostly about the role of miracles as evidence for some belief, and the converse role of evidenceas justifying a belief in miracles; (4) a further discussion of testimonial evidence in particular, and of how such evidence properly bears on judgments of probability.

Keywords: epistemic effect (of miracles); evidence; Hume; law of nature; non-epistemic effect (of miracles); miracle; probability; testimonial evidence; violation of a law of nature

Chapter.  9770 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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