Scenario 1: Suppose Person A talks about some historical event X-Y and claims that it can only be a miracle. (Miracle taken as literally.) Person B rejects, saying that X-Y has a natural explanation.

Scenario 2: Suppose Person A talks about some historical event W-Z and claims that it can only be a miracle. Person B rejects, saying that the existence of W-Z is unverified.

Does Person B's argumentation has a name?

EDIT: I am more like whether Person B's attitude of bad argument has a name, like the examples in https://bookofbadarguments.com/

  • You might call it dogmatism.
    – user3017
    Nov 20, 2017 at 14:05
  • 1
    These are two different cases. In one, Person B agrees that the event happened--say, an earthquake--but claims to have an alternate, valid interpretation of the event based on natural causes. In case two, Person B is claiming that there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that the event even happened. In general, Person B appears to be generally skeptical as opposed to credulous, but being generally skeptical is not unique to a given form of argument or philosophical position.
    – philosodad
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:02

2 Answers 2


The way the cases are set up, it’s not clear to me that B advances any argument at all. In the first scenario, A makes a twofold claim:

(1.1) Event XY happened.

(1.2) All XY-type events are miracles.

The conclusion is that a miracle happened. Now, B responds by rejecting (1.2) – and a rejection of a premise/claim isn’t in itself an argument. Of course, B may support her move by providing a natural explanation for XY; but providing an explanation also isn’t in itself an argument.

If there is an argument here, it would be a meta-theoretic argument, to the effect that natural explanations are in some sense better than explanations that reference miracle. What the meta-theoretic argument is exactly, would depend on the details of the case. It may be an instance of Ockham’s Razor; but it may also have to do with the fact that natural explanations have more predictive power, are simpler, can be tested, …

In the second scenario, A makes the same twofold claim as before (except we’re talking of WZ and not XY). Yet this time, B responds by rejecting the first part of the claim, rather than the second. Once again, a rejection isn’t in itself an argument. As before, B may support her move – say by pointing out that the historical sources that speak of WZ are unreliable.

This could again be interpreted as a meta-theoretic argument: assuming that the sources are unreliable, is theoretically better (whatever that means exactly) than accepting that a miracle occurred.

Now, there is a slightly simpler (and much less detailed) way to look at the situation. It seems that B firmly accepts the following claim:

(3) There are no miracles.

In turn, if you combine (3) with (1.2), it logically follows that (1.1) is false. Likewise, if you combine (3) with (1.1), it logically follows that (1.2) is false. The first implication is an instance of modus tollens, the second could just about count as a reductio ad absurdum.


I agree with what someone else said, that the "bad argument" here could be described as "dogmatism".

Person A's bad argument, that is.

Person B could be described as "disagreeing" with Person A's assertions, to which Person A then puts their fingers in their ears and says "la la la".

Someone else said that person B does not give any argument at all, which I disagree with.

I suggest that Person B is arguing that 1 or more of Person A's assertions are false, which can be described as "disagreeing" with those assertions.

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