Chapter

Does it Matter whether a Miracle-like Event Happens to Oneself rather than to Someone Else?

Luc Bovens

in Probability in the Philosophy of Religion

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199604760
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741548 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604760.003.0004
Does it Matter whether a Miracle-like Event Happens to Oneself rather than to Someone Else?

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Let a miracle-like event be an event that is seemingly indicative of the existence of an all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful being, and yet might occur in a naturalistic world, though this would be very improbable. Suppose that a third-person report is equally as reliable as a first-person experience of such a miracle-like event — which avoids Hume’s objection to the evidential value of reports of miracles. The question addressed in this chapter is: Is it the case that, under the assumption of equal reliability, a first-person experience still has greater evidential weight than a third-person report of a miracle-like event? William James (1902) answers this question affirmatively, whereas William Alston (1991) argues that they should have equal evidential weight. An appeal to Shafer’s protocols (1985) provides qualified support to James’ position in this controversy.

Keywords: miracles; protocols; probability; evidential weight; reliability; James; Alston; Hume

Chapter.  5791 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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