, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 20–25 | Cite as

Against ‘Against Miracles’

  • Robert Larmer


Tobacco Plant Physical Object Unusual Event Causal Principle Established Regularity 
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  1. 1.
    John Collier, “Against Miracles”,Dialogue, 25/2 (1986) 349–352. My original article “Miracles and the Laws of Nature,” appeared inDialogue, 24/2 (1985) pp. 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Larmer, “Miracles and the Laws of Nature,” p. 235.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Larmer, “Miracles and the Laws of Nature,” pp. 230–31.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Antony Flew,Hume's Philosophy of Belief, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961) p. 204.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Flew,Hume's Philosophy of Belief,, p. 205.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    At least this is Hume's official position Several writers have pointed out that his later comments and use of language throw doubt on the sincerity of his earlier stated intentions. My own view is that Hume was willing to grant that miracles could conceivably occur—though he did not for a moment think they actually did—but that there could never, even in principle, be enough evidence to justify rational belief in their occurence.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gary Colwell, “On Defining Away the Miraculous,”Philosophy, Vol. 57, (1982) pp. 327–37, p. 332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Collier, “Against Miracles,” p. 350.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Collier, “Against Miracles,” p. 351.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Collier, “Against Miracles,” p. 351.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    This should come as no surprise, since there are strong links between conservation principles and causal principles. What Collier wants to call a ‘physically isolated’ system would be one which was not casually affected by something other than itself. By introducing the termphysical, Collier smuggles in the notion that all causes are physical ones and that changes in a system can only be caused by the flow of energy from, or into, some other physical system. This is to beg the important question of whether all causes are physical causes, however. A good assessment of the relation between causal principles and conservation principles is Ernst Mach'sHistory and Root of the Principle of the Conservation of Energy, translated and annotated by Philip E. B. Jourdain, 2nd ed. (Chicago, Open Court Publishing Co., 1911)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Collier, “Against Miracles,” p. 352.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer SBM B.V. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Larmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of New BrunswickCanada

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