Yann Schmitt

Hume on Miracles
The Issue of Question-begging

17/1 - Spring 2012, pages 49–71
Date of online publication: 04 juin 2012
Date of publication: 04 juin 2012


Hume’s chapter “Of Miracles” has been widely discussed, and one issue is that Hume seems to simply beg the question. Hume has a strong but implicit naturalist bias when he argues against the existence of reliable testimony for miracles. In this article, I explain that Hume begs the question, despite what he says about the possibility of miracles occurring. The main point is that he never describes a violation of the laws of nature that could not be explained by scientific theories.


Cite this article

Schmitt, Yann. “Hume on Miracles: The Issue of Question-begging.” Forum Philosophicum 17, no. 1 (2012): 49–71. doi:10.5840/forphil20121713.

Full Text


Anscombe, Gertrude E. M. Faith in a Hard Ground: Essays on Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics. Edited by Mary Geach and Luke Gormally. Exeter; Charlottesville, VA: Imprint Academic, 2008.

Earman, John. Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Everitt, Nicholas. Review of A Defense of Hume on Miracles, by Robert J. Fogelin. The Philosophical Quarterly 55, no. 220 (2005): 514–516.

Fogelin, Robert J. A Defense of Hume on Miracles. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Tom. L Beauchamp. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Johnson, David. Hume, Holism, and Miracles. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.

Mackie, John Leslie. The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.

Plantinga, Alvin. Warranted Christian Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Plantinga, Alvin, and Nicholas Wolterstorff, eds. Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.

Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments for and against Beliefs in God. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Swinburne, Richard, ed. Bayes’s Theorem. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Swinburne, Richard. “For the Possibility of Miracles.” http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles2/SwinburneMiracles.php


© Forum Philosophicum