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Probability in the Philosophy of Religion$
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Jake Chandler and Victoria S. Harrison

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604760

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604760.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.64) 4 Does it Matter whether a Miracle-like Event Happens to Oneself rather than to Someone Else?
Source:
Probability in the Philosophy of Religion
Author(s):

Luc Bovens

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604760.003.0004

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

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