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Evidence and Explanation in Cicero's On Divination

Cabrera, Frank (2019) Evidence and Explanation in Cicero's On Divination. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. ISSN 00393681

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Abstract

In this paper, I examine Cicero’s oft-neglected De Divinatione, a dialogue investigating the legitimacy of the practice of divination. First, I offer a novel analysis of the main arguments for divination given by Quintus, highlighting the fact that he employs two logically distinct argument forms. Next, I turn to the first of the main arguments against divination given by Marcus. Here I show, with the help of modern probabilistic tools, that Marcus’ skeptical response is far from the decisive, proto-naturalistic assault on superstition that it is sometimes portrayed to be. Then, I offer an extended analysis of the second of the main arguments against divination given by Marcus. Inspired by Marcus’ second main argument, I formulate, explicate, and defend a substantive principle of scientific methodology that I call the “Ciceronian Causal-Nomological Requirement” (CCR). Roughly, this principle states that causal knowledge is essential for relying on correlations in predictive inference. Although I go on to argue that Marcus’ application of the CCR in his debate with Quintus is dialectically inadequate, I conclude that De Divinatione deserves its place in Cicero’s philosophical corpus, and that ultimately, its significance for the history and philosophy of science ought to be recognized.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Cabrera, Frank
Keywords: Cicero; Divination; Bayesianism; Inference to the Best Explanation; Causal Knowledge; Predictive Inference
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science and Religion
Depositing User: Frank Cabrera
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2019 06:50
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2019 06:50
Item ID: 16684
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science and Religion
Date: 2019
ISSN: 00393681
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16684

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