This book developed from sections of my doctoral dissertation, "The Possibility of Religious Knowledge: Causation, Coherentism and Foundationalism," Brown University, 1982. However, it actually had its beginnings much earlier when, as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, I first read Hume's "Of Miracles" and became interested in it. (Fascinated would be too strong. ) My teacher put the following marginal comment in a paper I wrote about it: "Suppose someone told you that they had been impregnated by an angel whispering into their ear. Wouldn't you think they had gone dotty?" She had spent time in England. I thought about it. I agreed that I would not have believed such testimony, but did not think this had much to do with Hume's argument against belief in miracles. What surprised me even more was the secondary literature. I became convinced that Hume's argument was misunderstood. My main thesis is established in Part I. This explains Hume's argument against justified belief in miracles and shows how it follows from, and is intrinsically connected with, his more general metaphysics. Part II Part I.
It should give the reader a more complete understanding builds on of both the structure of Hume's argument and of his crucial and questionable premises. Chapters 5 and 11 are perhaps the most technical in the book, but they are also the least necessary. They can be skipped by the reader who is only interested in Hume on miracles.
I Hume's Analysis of Causation in Relation to His Analysis of Miracles.- 1. Hume's Account of A Posteriori Reasoning.- 2. Miracles and Reasoning based on Experience.- 3. The Indian and The Ice: Understanding and Rejecting Hume's Argument.- 4. A Better But Less Interesting Humean Argument.- 5. Miracles and The Logical Entailment Analysis of Causation.- 6. Are Miracles Violations of Laws of Nature?.- Notes to Part I.- II Can Anyone Ever Know That a Miracle Has Occurred?.- 7. What Is Involved In Knowing That a Miracle has Occurred?.- 8. Hume's Account of Tillotson and the Alleged "Argument of a Like Nature".- 9. Testimony and Sensory Evidence: Reasons For Belief in Miracles?.- 10. Tillotson's Argument: Its Application to Justified Belief in Miracles.- 10.1 Ahern's Unsuccessful Critique of Tillotson.- 10.2 The Similarity of Hume's Argument to Tillotson's and The Failure of Hume's Argument.- 11. Conclusion: Miracles and Contemporary Epistemology.- 11.1 Foundationalism and Belief in Miracles.- Can Belief In A Miracle Be A Basic Belief?.- Can Belief In A Miracle Be A Non-Basic Belief?.- 11.2 Coherence and Belief in Miracles.- Notes to Part II.- Index of Names.- Index of Subjects.