Tuesday, 24 July 2018

De Quincey on Thought Experiments


De Quincey discussing Hume on Miracles (Section X 'Treatise') has a pertinent thing or two to say. His observations on the Queen Elizabeth resurrection story attested by her physicians are good and can be applied to the present mania for killer T.E.s

Prudent men, in such circumstances, would act as the judges in our English courts, who are always displeased if it is attempted to elicit their opinions upon a point of law by a proposed fiction. And very reasonably; for in these fictitious cases all the little circumstances of reality are wanting, and the oblique relations to such circumstances, out of which it is that any sound opinion can be formed. We all know very well what Hume is after in this problem of a resurrection. And his case of Queen Elizabeth's resurrection being a perfectly fictitious case, we are at liberty to do any one of three different things:—either simply to refuse an answer; or, 2dly, to give such an answer as he looks for, viz., to agree with him in his disbelief under the supposed contingency; without, therefore, offering the slightest prejudice to any scriptural case of resurrection: i. e., we might go along with him in his premises, and yet balk him of his purpose; or, 3dly, we might even join issue with him, and peremptorily challenge his verdict upon his own fiction.
(from Theological Essays and Other Papers Vol.1)

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