During the seventeenth century, disputes over middle knowledge centered on the following question: does God know contingent states of affairs before He decrees to bring them about (the Jesuit view); or, conversely, does He know them after He has decreed which states of affairs He will bring about (the Dominican view)? This article intends to cast some light on Leibniz’s view of this question. Of central importance here is the notion of a possible decree (designed both to ground contingency and (...) to explain God’s knowledge). Despite his apparent proximity to the Dominican view, Leibniz maintained the prevolitional nature of God’s knowledge of contingent states of affairs. In order to establish this point, Leibniz’s view is compared to some little known developments in the theory of middle knowledge. (shrink)
Paraconsistent logic is the study of logics in which there are some theories embodying contradictions but which are not trivial, in particular in a paraconsistent logic, the ex contradictione sequitur quod libet, which can be formalized as Cn(T, a,¬a)=F is not valid. Since nearly half a century various systems of paraconsistent logic have been proposed and studied. This field of research is classified under a special section (B53) in the Mathematical Reviews and watching this section, it is possible to see (...) that the number of papers devoted to paraconsistent logic is each time greater and has recently increased due in particular to its applications to computer sciences (see e.g. Blair and Subrahmanian. (shrink)
This assignment is to be worked alongside other homework and is due at the class period following the midterm exam. Though you should do reading and start thinking about the issues right away, details will make most sense after we have made some progress with other assignments.
Among recent objections to Pascal’s Wager, two are especially compelling. The first is that decision theory, and specifically the requirement of maximizing expected utility, is incompatible with infinite utility values. The second is that even if infinite utility values are admitted, the argument of the Wager is invalid provided that we allow mixed strategies. Furthermore, Hájek (Philosophical Review 112, 2003) has shown that reformulations of Pascal’s Wager that address these criticisms inevitably lead to arguments that are philosophically unsatisfying and historically (...) unfaithful. Both the objections and Hájek’s philosophical worries disappear, however, if we represent our preferences using relative utilities (generalized utility ratios) rather than a one-place utility function. Relative utilities provide a conservative way to make sense of infinite value that preserves the familiar equation of rationality with the maximization of expected utility. They also provide a means of investigating a broader class of problems related to the Wager. (shrink)
This paper argues that Pascal's formulation of his famous wager argument licenses an inference about God's nature that ultimately vitiates the claim that wagering for God is in one's rational self-interest. In particular, it is argued that if we accept Pascal's premises, then we can infer that the god for whom Pascal encourages us to wager is irrational. But if God is irrational, then the prudentially rational course of action is to refrain from wagering for him.
Recent scholarship has shown that the success of Pascal’s wager rests on precarious grounds. To avoid notorious problems, it must appeal to considerations such as what probability we assign to the existence of various gods and what religion we think provides the greatest happiness in this life. Rational judgments concerning these matters are subject to change over time. Some claim that the wager therefore cannot support a steadfast commitment to God. I argue that this conclusion does not follow. By drawing (...) upon the line of reasoning employed in getting married, I explain how unstable considerations can provide a sufficient rational foundation for a stable commitment. (shrink)
Doctors and dentists have traditionally used antibiotic prophylaxis in certain patient groups in order to prevent infective endocarditis (IE). New guidelines, however, suggest that the risk to patients from using antibiotics is higher than the risk from IE. This paper analyses the relative risks of prescribing and not prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis against the background of Pascal’s Wager, the infamous assertion that it is better to believe in God regardless of evidence, because of the prospective benefits should He exist. Many doctors (...) seem to believe the parallel proposition that it is better to prescribe antibiotics, regardless of evidence, because of the prospective benefit conferred upon the patient. This has been called the “no lose philosophy” in medicine: better safe than sorry, even if the evidence inconveniently suggests that following this mantra is potentially more likely to result in sorry than safe. It transpires that, just as Pascal’s Wager fails to convince because of a lack of evidence to support it and the costs incurred by trying to believe, so the “belts and braces” approach of prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis is unjustifiable given the actual evidence of potential risk and benefit to the patient. Ultimately, there is no no-lose if your clinical decisions, like Pascal’s Wager, are based on faith rather than evidence. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s main contribution to history and philosophy of modern logic was his distinction between two basic views of logic, first, the absolutist, or universalist, view of the founding fathers, Frege, Peano, and Russell, which dominated the first, classical period of history of modern logic, and, second, the relativist, or model-theoretic, view, inherited from Boole, Schröder, and Löwenheim, which has dominated the second, contemporary period of that history. In my paper, I present the man Jean van Heijenoort (Sect. 1); then (...) I describe his way of arguing for the second view (Sect. 2); and finally I come down in favor of the first view (Sect. 3). There, I specify the version of universalism for which I am prepared to argue (Sect. 3, introduction). Choosing ZFC to play the part of universal, logical (in a nowadays forgotten sense) system, I show, through an example, how the usual model theory can be naturally given its proper place, from the universalist point of view, in the logical framework of ZFC; I outline another, not rival but complementary, semantics for admissible extensions of ZFC in the very same logical framework; I propose a way to get universalism out of the predicaments in which universalists themselves believed it to be (Sect. 3.1). Thus, if universalists of the classical period did not, in fact, construct these semantics, it was not that their universalism forbade them, in principle, to do so. The historical defeat of universalism was not technical in character. Neither was it philosophical. Indeed, it was hardly more than the victory of technicism over the very possibility of a philosophical dispute (Sect. 3.2). (shrink)
An adaptation of Pascal’s Wager argument has been considered useful in deciding about the provision of life-sustaining treatment for patients in persistent vegetative state. In this article, I assess whether people making such decisions should resort to the application of Pascal’s idea. I argue that there is no sufficient reason to give it an important role in making the decisions.
Jean Hamburger (1909--1992) is considered the founder of the concept of medical intensive care (reanimation medicale) and the first to propose the name Nephrology for the branch of medicine dealing with kidney diseases. One of the first kidney grafts in the world (with short-term success), in 1953, and the first dialysis session in France, in 1955, were performed under his guidance. His achievements as a writer were at least comparable: Hamburger was awarded several important literary prizes, including prix Femina, prix (...) Balzac and the Cino del Duca prize (1979), awarded, among others, to Jorge Luis Borges and Konrad Lorenz.Here we would like to offer a selected reading of a "golden" book, "Conseils aux etudiants en medicine de mon service" ("Advice to the Medical Students in my Service"), the first book dedicated to patient-physician relationship in Nephrology, written when dialysis and transplantation were becoming clinical options (1963). The themes include: the central role of the patient, who should be known by name, profession, life style, and not by disease; the importance of the setting of the care; the need for truth-telling and for leaving hope; the role of research not only in the progression of science, but also in the daily clinical practice. (shrink)
The Many Gods Objection (MGO) is widely viewed as a decisive criticism of Pascal’s Wager. By introducing a plurality of hypotheses with infinite expected utility into the decision matrix, the wagerer is left without adequate grounds to decide between them. However, some have attempted to rebut this objection by employing various criteria drawn from the theological tradition. Unfortunately, such defenses do little good for an argument that is supposed to be an apologetic aimed at atheists and agnostics. The purpose of (...) this paper is to offer a defensive strategy of a different sort, one more suited to the Wager’s apologetic aim and status as a decision under ignorance. Instead of turning to criteria independent of the Wager, it will be shown that there are characteristics already built into its decision theoretic structure that can be used to block many categories of theological hypotheses including MGO’s more outrageous “cooked-up” hypotheses and “philosophers’ fictions”. (shrink)
Jean-Paul Sartre is one of the most famous philosophers of the twentieth century. The principal founder of existentialism, a political thinker and famous novelist and dramatist, his work has exerted enormous influence in philosophy, literature, politics and cultural studies. Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings is the first collection of Sartre's key philosophical writings and provides an indispensable resource for readers of his work. Stephen Priest's clear and helpful introductions make the volume an ideal companion to those coming to Sartre's writing for (...) the first time. (shrink)
Jean-Francois Lyotard is often considered to be the father of postmodernism. Here leading experts in the field of cultural and philosophical studies, including Barry Smart, John O' Neill and Victor J. Seidler, tackle many of the questions still being asked about this controversial figure.
The article analyses the idea that according to the averroist Jean de Jandun, Master of Arts in Paris at the beginning of the 14th century, human beings are composed of a «double form» the separated intellect on the one hand, the cogitative soul on the other hand. After recalling several major accounts of the time, we explore Jean's reading of Averroes' major conceptions concerning the problem. Finally, we challenge the idea according to which we observe in his writings the radical (...) thesis of a sometimes cogitating sometimes thinking «double human being» that makes of the homo intelligens a punctual and exclusive new being, which is accidentally produced while the thinking takes place. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s account of the historical development of modern logic was composed in 1974 and first published in 1992 with an introduction by his former student. What follows is a new edition with a revised and expanded introduction and additional notes.
This collection of articles illustrates the intimacy between science and literature, pleasure and sense, excess and moderation that Jean Ceard sought to understand and that he instilled in those who collaborated or studied with him.
Jean Starobinski, one of Europe's foremost literary critics, examines the life that led Rousseau, who so passionately sought open, transparent communication with others, to accept and even foster obstacles that permitted him to withdraw into himself. First published in France in 1958, Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains Starobinski's most important achievement and, arguably, the most comprehensive book ever written on Rousseau. The text has been extensively revised for this edition and is published here along with seven essays on Rousseau that appeared between (...) 1962 and 1970. (shrink)
This article studies the idea of Corporate Social Performance (CSP) from a critical perspective using empirical elements derived from analysis of year 2000 ARESE data. ARESE is the French first mover social rating agency providing quantified data about the Social Performance of French companies. The paper starts out by reviewing leading CSP models and discussing problems inherent to the measurement of this construct before going on to present and analyse ARESE data - whose suitability for existing models will be discussed.
Social reporting has become an increasingly important dimension of the corporate social responsibility process. The growing necessity to include the social dimension in reporting practices raises important questions about the nature of social responsibility and its impact on corporate and individual behaviour and performance. The literature has yet to provide a reliable theoretical definition of corporate social responsibility and performance, however. Based on the approach proposed by Simons, we argue that organisational reporting about social responsibility can be viewed as a (...) learning tool in some instances. Under this view the design and implementation of corporate social reporting procedures may lead to individual and organisational dynamic changes that foster organisational performance. Research propositions are then derived from the analysis. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to investigate how Human Resources (HR) contributes to responsible leadership. Although Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices have been embraced by many corporations in recent years, the specific contributions of HR professionals, HR management practices and employees to responsible leadership have been overlooked. Relying on the analysis of interviews with 30 CSR and HR corporate executives from 22 corporations operating in France, we specify the HR contributions to responsible leadership at the functional, practical, and relational (...) levels of analysis. We analyze whether and how HR support employees’ involvement in CSR, and highlight areas of collaboration and tension between HR and CSR functions around emerging practices of responsible leadership. Our findings uncover the multiple yet often implicit roles of HR in responsible leadership as well as the interrelation between functional, practical and relational dimensions of these roles. Finally, this study suggests that the organization of the HR–CSR interface can enable or undermine the HR contributions to responsible leadership and points to underlying cognitive factors that shape the HR–CSR interface. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the instrumental perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in practice and theory by relying on sociological analyses of a well known organization: the Italian Mafia. Legal businesses might share features of the Mafia, such as the propensity to exploit a governance vacuum in society, a strong organizational identity that demarcates the inside from the outside, and an extreme profit motive. Instrumental CSR practices have the power to accelerate a firm’s transition to (...) Mafia status through its own pathologies. The boundaries of such instrumentalism are explored and lessons for future CSR research derived, with specific emphasis on a firm’s social and normative embeddedness, taking into account the inherent challenge of regulating corporate behaviour in the global economy. (shrink)
This paper is meant to provide a theoretical contribution to the Business and Society field, in line with Pasquero proposition (1996) to develop a constructivist research agenda on Business and Society issues, i.e. an agenda accounting for the dynamics and the socio-cognitive construction of CSR and stakeholder concepts. Among the different theoretical perspectives that may be good candidates to overcome several difficulties related to that lack in the B&S field, wepropose that some of Michel Callon’s sociological works are of particular (...) value. By bringing together those two traditionally separated areas of research, we will try to show how Callon’s concepts may shed new light on B&S traditional research issues, by answering, reformulating research questions or opening new research directions. (shrink)
This paper investigates how social movements generate new and profit-driven organizational forms in the context of Socially Responsible Investment. Building on empirical evidence from previous research, we highlight the transformation of SRI from an activist-driven movement aimed at lobbying corporations for social causes to a profit-driven industry focused on generating revenue for investors. We first show this change as it occurs across time in the US. Then, we discuss the cross-cultural diffusion of this practice from US to two continental European (...) countries. We provide a collective action model framework to account for this process of institutional commodification. (shrink)
Cherchant à refonder l’édifice euclidien, Leibniz a formulé une Caractéristique géométrique qui annonce les concepts géneraux de la théorie des ensembles. Dans ce cadre, il a pu en particulier formaliser sa conception du continu. L’intérêt du Pacidius Philalethi (1676) est de montrer qu’en choisissant la conception intensionnelle du continu -position qu’il ne dementira jamais- il sélectionne parmi les images duales celle dont se déduit le changement qualitatif, base d’une philosophie naturelle qui soutiendra encore la dynamique ultérieure. Une tâche se dessine (...) maintenant, soit déduire la nécessité d’un mouvement universei et infiniment varié à partir de ses conditions topologiques.We know that Leibniz intended to bring new foundations to the euclidean geometry and he has according to this view formulate a Characteristica geometrica which announces few general concepts of set theory. Parlicularly he tried to formalise his conception of continuity. Before the main interest of the Pacidius Philalethi (1676) is here: showing us that Leibniz when he chooses an intensional conception of continuity he chooses in the same time the dual image from which be can deduce the qualitative variation. We reckon again these conception at the grounds of his later philosophy of nature. But now we have to follow Leibniz demostrating how universal and infinite variations flow from its topological conditions. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical framework to investigate ‘CSP-FP relationship’ as a social construction on financial markets. The construction of such a relationship has become a crucial business problem since the legitimacy-building process of actors implied in markets related to corporate social responsibility evaluation and management is closely associated to the belief that ‘ethics and/or social responsibility pay’ – at least in the long run. Consequently, actors’ behaviours and beliefs on these markets can no longer (...) be considered as external to the CSP-FP debate, but should be integrated as an endogenous variable. Moreover, the diffusion of these behaviours and beliefs could also contribute to the effective realization of such a relationship on financial markets and, to some extent, in the business arena. These facts offer the opportunity to reframe theoretically the classical and over-studied debate around ‘the CSP-FP link’ and to propose a new framework describing the various processes of performativity through which actors enact and construct the positive relationship between CSP and FP. (shrink)
We note a discrepancy between a general and global CSR discourse that seems to be rather homogeneous in content, and an apparent heterogeneity of actualoperationalizations of CSR at the firm level. Further, we suggest that the measurement of CSR plays a mediating role between the two. In this paper we first show that indeed there appears to be a rather homogeneous CSR discourse at the broadest level of analysis, and we offer an explanation for this observation. We then show how (...) at the operational level there actually is much heterogeneity, not only across countries, and across and within industries, but also within firms and throughout time. Again, we offer an explanation for these observations. Finally, we discuss how emerging CSR reporting systems can serve as mediators between the contradicting trends at both levels. (shrink)
This paper provides a summary of the symposium on the institutional and social construction of Responsible Investment (RI), held at the 22nd IABS conference. In the context of the symposium, we propose to move beyond the dominant focus on the financial impact of RI to consider the potential of emergent institutional and sociological perspectives to explain the practices and concepts related to RI. In doing so, our aim is to explore in greater detail the current changes in the RI infrastructure (...) and the impact of these changes on wider issues of corporate sustainability and social responsibility. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to provoke a debate on the management of social issues building on the analysis of a well known illegal organization, namely theSicilian Mafia. According to the analytical framework provided by Gambetta (1993), the Sicilian Mafia could be considered as a business on its own dealing a specific commodity: the ‘protection of people’. That approach of ‘Mafia as a corporation’ allows investigating the social responsibility of that organization and the way the Mafia managed its key (...) stakeholders. As we will argue, the recent spate of corporate scandals reveals the risk of normal corporations turning into a Mafia type of organization. One of the key drivers of those scandals is the overstretched instrumental interpretation of a corporation's societal responsibilities. By caricaturing and perverting some established practices of the mainstream approach to CSR perspective, we will demonstrate the potential pathologies of a CSR approach that is mainly based on the neoliberal foundation of individual and organizational self-interest. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the legitimacy-building processes of Social Rating Organizations (SRO) and the role of objects in these processes. SROs have played a key role in the development of SRI in Europe by providing social and environmental rating to financial investors. However, little is known about the processes through which they have acquired their legitimacy, i.e. their ‘right-to-rate’ corporations. We provide here an in-depth empirical analysis of the legitimacy-building process of two European SROs and demonstrate (...) the role played by objects in these processes of legitimacy construction. (shrink)
Pascal's Wager is finding ever more defenders who aim to undermine the old Many Gods Objection. It is my thesis that they are mistaken. After describing the Wager and the objection, I report on Jeff Jordan's repeated attempt to limit legitimate religious hypotheses to those that are traditional. In separate sections I criticize Jordan, first coming from epistemology and second from anthropology. Then I describe George Schlesinger's repeated appeal to the ‘simplest’ religious hypothesis, and argue that it fails for similar (...) reasons. Finally, I summarize and reject miscellaneous defences of Pascal by Robert Anderson, Bradley Armour-Garb, James Franklin, Joshua Golding, and Nicholas Rescher. (shrink)
Is it reasonable to believe in God even in the absence of strong evidence that God exists? Pragmatic arguments for theism are designed to support belief even if one lacks evidence that theism is more likely than not. Jeff Jordan proposes that there is a sound version of the most well-known argument of this kind, Pascal's Wager, and explores the issues involved - in epistemology, the ethics of belief, decision theory, and theology.
Only one traditional objection to Pascal's wager is telling: Pascal assumes a particular theology, but without justification. We produce two new objections that go deeper. We show that even if Pascal's theology is assumed to be probable, Pascal's argument does not go through. In addition, we describe a wager that Pascal never considered, which leads away from Pascal's conclusion. We then consider the impact of these considerations on other prudential arguments concerning what one should believe, and on the more general (...) question of when and why belief formation ought to be based solely on the evidence. (shrink)
Taking his critique of totalitarianizing conceptions of community as a starting point, this text examines Jean-Luc Nancy's work of an "ontology of plural singular being" for its political implications. It argues that while at first this ontology seems to advocate a negative or an anti-politics only, it can also be read as a "theory of communicative praxis" that suggests a certain ethos - in the form of a certain use of symbols (which is expressed only inaptly by the word "style") (...) that would render the ontological plurality of singulars perceptible and practically effective. Finally, some recent texts by Nancy even sidestep the ontology of being-with and face the question of what politics, faced with demands of justice, could be and what a democratic politics could provide. Both of these aspects in Nancy's work, however, still remain to be spelled out more politically. (shrink)
Abstract Modern reflection on the ideal of personal autonomy has its Western origin in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, where autonomy, or self-legislation, involves citizens joining together to make laws for themselves that reflect their collective understanding of the common good. Four features of this conception of autonomy continue to be relevant today. First, autonomy, a type of freedom, is introduced into modern philosophy in order to make up for a perceived deficiency, or incompleteness, in merely ?negative? freedom (the right (...) to do as one pleases, unimpeded by others). Second, autonomy is taken to be not merely a complement of negative freedom but a higher, more valuable species of freedom. Third, at its origin personal autonomy is not conceived individualistically; rather, on Rousseau's account, autonomy is achievable only if citizens surrender part of their status as individuals and think of their social membership as essential, not merely accidental, to who they are. Finally, Rousseau's conception of autonomy is distinct from the contemporary ideal of autonomy defined as judging or deciding for oneself (according to one's own reason). Nevertheless, there is an important sense in which autonomy as Rousseau conceives it also requires the developed capacity for independent, self-determined judgment. (shrink)
In his new book on Pascal's Wager, Jeff Jordan argues that only the ‘Jamesian’ version of the wager argument, as he sees it presented in William James' essay The Will to Believe , constitutes a sound pragmatic argument in favour of theism, whereas Pascal's original wager argument is doomed to fail on various grounds. This article argues that Jordan's theory is untenable. The many-gods objection is used as an example: it is demonstrated that the Jamesian Wager argument too is powerless (...) to rebut this objection. (shrink)
“Pascal's Wager” is the name given to an argument due to Blaise Pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in God. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single paragraph of his Pensées, Pascal apparently presents at least three such arguments, each of which might be called a ‘wager’ — it is only the final of these that is traditionally referred to as “Pascal's Wager”. We find in it the extraordinary confluence of several important strands (...) of thought: the justification of theism; probability theory and decision theory, used here for almost the first time in history; pragmatism; voluntarism (the thesis that belief is a matter of the will); and the use of the concept of infinity. (shrink)
In some dark alley. . . Mugger: Hey, give me your wallet. Pascal: Why on Earth would I want to do that? Mugger: Otherwise I’ll shoot you. Pascal: But you don’t have a gun. Mugger: Oops! I knew I had forgotten something. Pascal: No wallet for you then. Have a nice evening. Mugger: Wait! Pascal: Sigh. Mugger: I’ve got a business proposition for you. . . . How about you give me your wallet now? In return, I promise to come (...) to your house tomorrow and give you double the value of what’s in the wallet. Not bad, eh? A 200% return on investment in 24 hours. (shrink)
The seal of the a priori is imprinted on the reception of Kant's philosophy. Piaget's epistemological argumentation seems to ascribe knowledge a more fruitful constructiveness than Kant, seeing the a priori as rooted in unvarying reason. Yet, it seems, he failed to recognize the complexity of Kant's theory, which does not always follow a quid iuris line. Moments of experience, analysis and self-observation played more than a marginal role in his discovery of the a priori. Indeed, Kant himself raises the (...) question of ontogenetic category assimilation in a review which pre-empts Piaget, borrowing the category of `original acquisition' from the doctrine of the laws of natural right. And although Kant should not be elevated to the harbinger of the knowledge on development issues delivered thus far by the history of science and experiments, he did recognize the temporal reference of their categories in principle without resolving their validity in psychogenetic terms. Key Words: a priori categories genetic epistemology Geneva School neo-Kantianism original acquisition Jean Piaget psychogenesis self-observation. (shrink)
I defend Pascal's Wager from a particular way of evading it, the mixed strategy approach. The mixed strategies approach suggests that Pascal's Wager does not obligate one to believe in God, because one can get the same infinite expected utility from other strategies besides the strategy of believing in God. I will show that while there's nothing technically wrong with the mixed strategy approach, rationality requires it to be applied in such a way that Pascal's Wager doesn't lose any force.
The kind of phenomenology that can be useful to theology will be a hermeneutical phenomenology, one that takes us beyond the Cartesian/Husserlian ideal of presuppositionless intuition. It will also be a phenomenology of inverse intentionality, one in which the constituting subject is constituted by the look and the voice of another. In light of these suggestions, the phenomenology of Jean-Luc Marion is defended against three critiques, namely that it compromises the boundary between phenomenology and theology, that the theology it serves (...) is a bad one to boot, and that it has an inadequate account of the subject. At the heart of this defense is Marion's clear distinction between phenomenology as a description of possible experience, and theology as the claim that a certain kind of experience, namely revelation or epiphany, is not merely actual but veridical. Phenomenology says, If revelation occurs it will be in the form of a saturated phenomenon. Theology says, for example, the burning bush was an epiphany, or Jesus Christ is a revelation. The attentive reader should have no trouble distinguishing Marion's phenomenological analyses, which should be persuasive to believer and unbeliever alike, from his theological claims. Marion's account of the subject falls under the heading of inverse intentionality, and there are hints that vision is aufgehoben in the voice. The seer is first of all the one seen, but above all the one addressed, called forth into response-able being. (shrink)
Pascal's wager attempts to provide a prudential reason in support of the rationality of believing that God exists. The wager employs the idea that the utility of theistic belief, if true, is infinite, and in this way, the expected utility of theism swamps that of any of its rivals. Not surprisingly the wager generates more than a good share of philosophical criticism. In this essay I examine two recent objections levelled against the wager and I argue that each fails. Following (...) this, I argue that a transfinite version of the wager -- one using the idea of an infinite utility -- is incompatible with standard axiomatic constructions of decision-theory and, as a consequence, the Pascalian would be well-advised to give up the idea of an infinite utility and employ only a finite version of the wager. The consequences of limiting the wager to finite utilities are also explored. (shrink)
In Pascal's Wager: A Study Of Practical Reasoning In Philosophical Theology , Nicholas Rescher aims to show that, contrary to received philosophical opinion, Pascal's Wager argument is "the vehicle of a fruitful and valuable insight -one which not only represents a milestone in the development of an historically important tradition of thought but can still be seen as making an instructive contribution to philosophical theology".  In particular, Rescher argues that one only needs to adopt a correct perspective in order (...) to see that Pascal's Wager argument is a good argument. Moreover, there seems to be a certain amount of contemporary support for Rescher's claim that Pascal's Wager argument can be seen to be a good argument when properly construed. However, despite this recent trend to adopt a more sympathetic stance towards Pascal's Wager argument, I propose to defend the traditional view that Pascal's Wager argument is almost entirely worthless -at least from the theological standpoint. (No doubt, it has historical significance from the standpoint of decision theory; but that's a separate matter.). (shrink)
Pascal is best known among philosophers for his wager in support of Christian belief. Since Ian Hacking’s classic article on the wager, three versions of the wager have been recognized within the concise paragraphs of the Pensées. In what follows I argue that there is a fourth to be found there, a version that in many respects anticipates the argument of William James in his 1896 essay “The Will to Believe.” This fourth wager argument, I contend, differs from the better-known (...) three in that it has as a premise the proposition that theistic belief is more rewarding than non-belief in this life, whether God exists or not. As we will see, this proposition provides a way of circumventing the many-gods objection. From the four wagers found in Pascal’s Pensées, I argue, one can salvage the resources for a version of the wager, Pascalian in nature, even if not in origin, immune to the many-gods objection. A brief comment on the apologetic role Pascal intended for the wagers played is our first task at hand. (shrink)
Alan Hájek has recently argued that certain assignments of vague probability defeat Pascals Wager. In particular, he argues that skeptical agnostics – those whose probability for God''s existence is vague over an interval containing zero – have nothing to fear from Pascal. In this paper, I make two arguments against Hájek: (1) that skeptical agnosticism is a form of dogmatism, and as such should be rejected; (2) that in any case, choice situations with vague probability assignments ought to be treated (...) as second-order cases of choice under uncertainty, with the result that belief in God is the favored option in a very wide range of cases. (shrink)
Blaise Pascal is highly regarded as a religious moralist, but he has rarely been given his due as an ethical theorist. The goal of this article is to assemble Pascal's scattered thoughts on moral judgment and moral wrongdoing into an explicit, coherent account that can serve as the basis for further scholarly reflection on his ethics. On my reading, Pascal affirms an axiological, social-intuitionist account of moral judgment and moral wrongdoing. He argues that a moral judgment is an immediate, intuitive (...) perception of moral value that we willfully disregard in favor of the attractive, though self-deceptive, deliverances of our socially constructed imaginations. We can deceive ourselves so easily because our capacity to evaluate goods is broken, a dark legacy of the fall. In the article's concluding section, I briefly compare Pascal to contemporary ethicists and suggest directions for future research. (shrink)
Pascal’s wager and Leibniz’s theory that this is the best of all possible worlds are latecomers in the Faith-and-Reason tradition. They have remained interlopers; they have never been taken as seriously as the older arguments for the existence of God and other themes related to faith and reason.
Rousseau's general will is mostly interpreted as promoting social unity at the expense of plurality. Conversely, this article argues that the general will depends on, and preserves, plurality for its formation and legitimacy. The general and the particular are not fixed opposites, for Rousseau, but are interdependent and contextually defined. The Rousseauian universal anticipates Laclau's notion of universality. The absence of any natural foundations for society deprives the universal of any pre-given identity. Likewise, the Laclauian universal names the lack of (...) ultimate ground for society. To prevent either sectarianism or despotism, the universal has to be constructed politically. Rousseau's contingent general will supplements the lack of universality, as diverse groups and individuals construct common values and political objectives that unify them across divisions without suppressing their difference. Due to its originary lack, the general will remains for ever incomplete. That incompleteness conditions the questioning, ambiguity and openness to change characterizing democracy. Key Words: democracy • equality • freedom • general will • Ernesto Laclau • particular • plurality • Jean-Jacques Rousseau • sovereignty • universal. (shrink)
The author argues that faith survives as a rational option, despite science rendering improbable distinctively theological claims about the world and history. After rejecting justifications of faith from natural theology and natural law, he defends a seemingly weaker strategy, a corrected version of Pascal's wager argument. The wager lets one's desires count toward showing one's faith to be rational, and the faith requires that oneÕs desires undergo radical transformation to protect the faith, making the wager argument really quite strong. As (...) Nietzsche insisted, to be an atheist in the face of this challenge, one would have to become superhuman and transform one's values radically in the opposite direction. (shrink)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains an important figure in the history of philosophy, both because of his contributions to political philosophy and moral psychology and because of his influence on later thinkers. Rousseau's own view of philosophy and philosophers was firmly negative, seeing philosophers as the post-hoc rationalizers of self-interest, as apologists for various forms of tyranny, and as playing a role in the alienation of the modern individual from humanity's natural impulse to compassion. The concern that dominates Rousseau's work is to (...) find a way of preserving human freedom in a world where human beings are increasingly dependent on one another for the satisfaction of their needs. This concern has two dimensions: material and psychological, of which the latter has greater importance. In the modern world, human beings come to derive their very sense of self from the opinion of others, a fact which Rousseau sees as corrosive of freedom and destructive of individual authenticity. In his mature work, he principally explores two routes to achieving and protecting freedom: the first is a political one aimed at constructing political institutions that allow for the co-existence of free and equal citizens in a community where they themselves are sovereign; the second is a project for child development and education that fosters autonomy and avoids the development of the most destructive forms of self-interest. However, though Rousseau believes the co-existence of human beings in relations of equality and freedom is possible, he is consistently and overwhelmingly pessimistic that humanity will escape from a dystopia of alienation, oppression, and unfreedom. In addition to his contributions to philosophy, Rousseau was active as a composer and a music theorist, as the pioneer of modern.. (shrink)
In this expository article one of the contributions of Jean Cavailles to the philosophy of mathematics is presented: the analysis of ‘mathematical experience’. The place of Cavailles on the logico-philosophical scene of the 30s and 40s is sketched. I propose a partial interpretation of Cavailles's epistemological program of so-called ‘conceptual dialectics’: mathematical holism, duality principles, the notion of formal contents, and the specific temporal structure of conceptual dynamics. The structure of mathematical abstraction is analysed in terms of its complementary dimensions: (...) paradigmatic generalization (domain extension, descriptive definitions, creative role of the symbolism...) and thematic reflexivity of concepts (promotion of operations to objects of a higher type). (shrink)
Jean Baudrillard is one of the most famous and controversial of writers on postmodernism. But what are his key ideas? Where did they come from and why are they important? This book offers a beginner's guide to Baudrillard's thought, including his views on technology, primitivism, reworking Marxism, simulation and the hyperreal, and America and postmodernism. Richard Lane places Baudrillard's ideas in the contexts of the French and postmodern thought and examines the ongoing impact of his work. Concluding with an extensively (...) annotated bibliography of the thinker's own texts, this is the perfect companion for any student approaching the work of Jean Baudrillard. (shrink)
Perhaps the best known criticism of Pascal’s wager is the many Gods objection. As so often with anglophone criticisms of Pascal, the many Gods objectiontypically treats the wager in isolation from the rest of Pascal’s thought. In this case, the truncated reading has issued in the view that Pascal was indifferent toor ignorant of the possibility that Gods other than the one described by Catholic theology might exist. This view is false. Even a cursory glance beyond the wagerfragment reveals that (...) Pascal considers a number of religious and philosophical positions and argues that, given the nature and needs of the human being, onlya God of a specific description could count as God for the human being and, so, be the object of the wager. This essay sketches Pascal’s view to show that the many Gods objection is not sufficient to address his argument meaningfully. (shrink)
Pascal’s Wager holds that one has pragmatic reason to believe in God, since that course of action has infinite expected utility. The mixed strategy objection holds that one could just as well follow a course of action that has infinite expected utility but is unlikely to end with one believing in God. Monton (2011. Mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager. Analysis 71: 642–45.) has argued that mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager, while Robertson (2012. Some mixed strategies can evade Pascal’s (...) Wager: a reply to Monton. Analysis 72: 295–98.) has argued that Monton is mistaken. We show that Monton is correct, highlight the crucial assumptions that he relies on, and shed some light on the role of mixed strategies in decision theory. (shrink)
The systematic philosophical foundation for Jean-François Lyotard's postmodern and post-Marxist politics is described. The central principle of the right to create different "phrases" is uncovered and examined. The political consequences of this philosophical system are explored, leading to the conclusion that Lyotard's commitment to difference leads to political indifference. The philosophical roots of this indifference are detailed in Lyotard's Cartesian starting point and his analysis of Holocaust revisionism. This analysis reveals an idealist basis to Lyotard's philosophy of difference. Lyotard's concept (...) of difference is compared to that of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. (shrink)
Arthur Falk has proposed a new construal of faith according to which it is not a mere species of belief, but has essential components in action. This twist on faith promises to resurrect Pascal’s Wager, making faith compatible with reason by believing as the scientist but acting as the theist. I argue that Falk’s proposal leaves religious faith in no better shape; in particular, it merely reframes the question in terms of rational desires rather than rational beliefs.
Using the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy as an anchoring point, Jacques Derrida in this book conducts a profound review of the philosophy of the sense of touch, from Plato and Aristotle to Jean-Luc Nancy, whose ground-breaking book Corpus he discusses in detail. Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Didier Franck, Martin Heidegger, Francoise Dastur, and Jean-Louis Chre;tien are discussed, as are Rene; Descartes, Diderot, Maine de Biran, Fe;lix Ravaisson, Immanuel Kant, Sigmund Freud, and others. The scope of Derrida’s deliberations makes (...) this book a virtual encyclopedia of the philosophy of touch (and the body). Derrida gives special consideration to the thinking of touch in Christianity and, in discussing Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay “Deconstruction of Christianity,” devotes a section of the book to the sense of touch in the Gospels. Another section concentrates on “the flesh,” as treated by Merleau-Ponty and others in his wake. Derrida’s critique of intuitionism, notably in the phenomenological tradition, is one of the guiding threads of the book. On Touching includes a wealth of notes that provide an extremely useful bibliographical resource. Personal and detached all at once, this book, one of the first published in English translation after Jacques Derrida’s death, serves as a useful and poignant retrospective on the work of the philosopher. A tribute by Jean-Luc Nancy, written a day after Jacques Derrida’s death, is an added feature. (shrink)
In "To Bet The Impossible Bet", Harmon Holcomb III argues: (i) that Pascal's wager is structurally incoherent; (ii) that if it were not thus incoherent, then it would be successful; and (iii) that my earlier critique of Pascal's wager in "On Rescher On Pascal's Wager" is vitiated by its reliance on "logicist" presuppositions. I deny all three claims. If Pascal's wager is "incoherent", this is only because of its invocation of infinite utilities. However, even if infinite utilities are admissible, the (...) wager is defeated by the "many gods" and "many wagers" objections. Moreover, these objections do not rely on mistaken "logicist" presuppositions: atheists and agnostics traditionally and typically hold that they have no more--or at any rate, hardly any more--reason to believe in the traditional Christian God than they have to believe in countless alternative deities. (shrink)
The following is a reflection on the possibility of teaching by example, and especially as the idea of teaching by example is developed in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. My thesis is that Rousseau created a literary version of himself in his writings as an embodiment of his philosophy, rather in the same way and with the same purpose that Plato created a version of Socrates. This figure of Rousseau—a sort of philosophical portrait of the man of nature—is represented as (...) an example for us to follow. This would appear to have been dangerous and destabilizing work, given the mental distress that it caused Rousseau in striving to live up to his fictional self. Rousseau's own ideas on the nature of teaching by example are presented in a discussion of the section in ‘Emile’ which Rousseau takes from an incident in his own life—the story of his meeting with a young Savoyard priest who befriended him and influenced him through the power of his example. (shrink)
The mixed strategy response to Pascal’s Wager avoids Pascal’s conclusion by noting that there are ways to obtain infinite expected utility other than believing in God. We can, for instance, flip a coin and believe in God if the coin lands heads. Bradley Monton has recently argued that rationality requires us to apply mixed strategies repeatedly until we believe in God, and thus that mixed strategies do not evade the Wager. I offer three mixed strategies meet the requirements of rationality (...) but avoid Monton’s result. (shrink)
Italian writers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, notably Pacioli (1494), Tartaglia (1556), and Cardan (1545), had discussed the problem of the division of a stake between two players whose game was interrupted before its close. The problem was proposed to Pascal and Fermat, probably in 1654, by the Chevalier de M´er´e, a gambler who is said to have had unusual ability “even for the mathematics.” The correspondence which ensued between Fermat and Pascal, was fundamental in the development of modern (...) concepts of probability, and it is unfortunate that the introductory letter from Pascal to Fermat is no longer extant. The one here translated, written in 1654, appears in the Œuvres de Fermat (ed. Tannery and Henry, Vol. II, pp. 288–314, Paris 1894) and serves to show the nature of the problem. (shrink)
`The first and only book to explore, at once, the field of my work and its limits, with both the intimacy and distance required: doubling and shadowing. It gives me great pleasure to find something that, beyond commentary, sees what I see and at the same time what I am unable to see' - Jean Baudrillard Baudrillard is a controversial figure. His work tends to fascinate and infuriate readers in equal numbers. Yet there is no doubting his importance to the (...) key debates in culture and theory of the last ten years. A prolific author, readers sometimes find it difficult to tease out the consistencies in Baudrillard's arguments. This book seeks to redress the balance. It aims to go beyond his writings on consumer objects, the Gulf War and America, to identify the fundamental logic that underpins his writings. It does this through a series of close readings of his main texts, paying particular attention to the form and internal coherence of his arguments. The book contends that, just as Baudrillard himself grapples with the problems of how to criticize self-defining systems, so we cannot simply hold Baudrillard up against external standards but must seek to judge him on his own terms. Jean Baudrillard: A Defence of the Real will be an indispensable text for all those interested in social theory who want a general introduction to Baudrillard's work. (shrink)
This text begins by considering the phrase ‘digital haptology’ as suggested by the closing pages of Derrida's Le Toucher. It suggests that this moment in telecommunications presents a model of ‘tele-haptology’. The text goes on to consider Jean-Luc Nancy's ‘Noli me tangere’ as a response to Le Toucher. In particular it is concerned with Nancy's hypothesis on Modern literature and art as having an essential link to the gospel parables. Through a reading of Nancy's text and the gospels, this hypothesis (...) is placed in doubt. Notably, the argument is made that once again Nancy's discourse on touching leads him to make a too hasty fore-closure of otherness within his intended deconstruction of reading and his account of Mary Magdalene. In response to Nancy's formulation of literature as parable, an alternative consideration of literature as tele-haptology is proposed. (shrink)
It is commonly recognized that Jean-Luc Nancy’s efforts to elaborate a conception of ‘the political’ are based upon Heidegger’s thinking of die Tecknik , even as they seek to overcome the difficulties that beset Heidegger’s own politics. But few have noted that Nancy also seeks to critically engage Carl Schmitt’s conception of das Politische , according to which there is a metaphysical and practical need for a sovereign decision on friends and enemies if effective political community and law are to (...) be possible. This article argues that recognizing that Nancy seeks to overcome Schmitt’s conception of the political throws into high relief his failure to address the actual subject matter of politics. In the end, Nancy remains too metaphysical to engage with the political. (shrink)
Jean-Guillaume-César-Alexandre-Hippolyte de Colins (1783-1859), a Belgian baron who lived mainly in Paris, sought to develop a position—rational socialism—intermediate between the extremes of full capitalism (with only private property) and full communism (with only collective property). All persons fully own themselves and the artifactual wealth that they produce, and they are entitled to an equal share of the natural resources and of the assets inherited from previous generations. Gifts and bequests are to be subject to heavy taxation (although at less than (...) 100% of their value, for efficiency reasons). Natural resources are subject to a rent-tax. A warning about the following reading: Colins writes in many places as if he held that an unrestricted right to make gifts and bequests is both necessary for efficient social functioning and required by justice. His ultimate view, however, is that efficient social functioning requires only some kind of weak (partially restricted) right to make gifts and bequest, and that justice does not require any such right. More specifically, he holds that justice requires that gifts and bequests be taxed as much as compatible with efficient social functioning. (shrink)
This paper examines Jean-Luc Nancy's interpretation of Hegel, focusing in particular on The Restlessness of the Negative. It is argued that Nancy's reading represents a significant break with other post-structuralist readings of Hegel by taking his thought to be non-metaphysical. The paper focuses in particular on the role Nancy gives to the negative in Hegel's thought. Ultimately Nancy's reading is limited as an interpretation of Hegel, since he gives no sustained explanation of the self-correcting function of reason.
This article explores how Jean-Luc Nancy attempts to gain critical traction on Christianity by proscribing thinking of completion. First, it describes Nancy's deconstruction of Christianity as stemming from his aesthetic redirection of Heidegger's thinking of finitude. Second, it further details Nancy's noetic declension of Heidegger via Kant and Lyotard, where the imagination and aesthetic communication are deemed impossible. Third, it examines Nancy's treatment of paintings of the Virgin Mary who, for Nancy, exemplifies his brand of incompletion. Nancy's work on Mary (...) reveals both the oversights and the insights of his deconstruction of Christianity, which Catholic theology should seriously engage. (shrink)
Is Jean-Paul Sartre to be credited for Richard Wright's existentialist leanings? This essay argues that while there have been noteworthy philosophical exchanges between Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Richard Wright, we can find evidence of Wright's philosophical and existential leanings before his interactions with Sartre and Beauvoir. In particular, Wright's short story "The Man Who Lived Underground" is analyzed as an existential, or Black existential, project that is published before Wright met Sartre and/or read his scholarship. Existentialist themes that (...) emerge from Wright's short story include flight, guilt, life, death, dread, and freedom. Additionally, it is argued that "The Man Who Lived Underground" offers a reversal of the prototypical allegory of the cave that we find in the Western (ancient Greek) philosophical tradition. The essay takes seriously the significance of the intellectual exchanges between Sartre, Beauvoir, and Wright while also highlighting Wright's own philosophical legacy. (shrink)
On the subject of football, Serge Mésonès, former French international turned journalist, wrote that ?the true miracle remains the birth of a great team; everything which could contribute to this deserves consideration. Whatever happens, the coach and his group will always form that tandem which Bella Guttman used to compare to a symphony orchestra and their conductor: there is a significant difference between the performance when Toscanini is conducting, and that when the conductor is mediocre? (Mésonès 1992, 12). With the (...) aim of better understanding the issues of such an assertion, in this article we will develop the theoretical elements that we began to tackle in the book Teaching Collective Sport in Schools (1999).1 This will involve clarifying, and going into detail on, some conceptions relating to the long journey that is the formation of a sporting group, exploring one scenario at a time. (shrink)
This article carries out a systematic exposition of the concept of the body in Jean-Luc Nancy, with all the risks of reduction that such an exposition entails. First it is necessary to return to Western philosophy’s founding text on living corporality, that is, Aristotle’s treatise on the soul. The oppositions that can be established between the Greek thinker’s psyche (soul) and Nancy’s dead Psyche are not so radical as may at first be thought: In both it is a question of (...) thinking the soul as the difference, the retreat or departure in which the exposition of bodies consists. The article continues with an analysis of touch and the self and concludes with an elaboration of the idea of the body within the general program of the deconstruction of Christianity. (shrink)
This essay works to set up a debate between the German philosopher Manfred Frank and the French philosophers Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy. At stake in the debate is the concept of freedom. The essay begins by explaining Frank's subject-based concept of freedom and then it presents the perfectly opposed non-subjective ontological concept of freedom that Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy forward. In the end, in the interest of threading a way through this impasse, and following the cue of these three philosophers, (...) we turn to the early German Romantics Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel to help us reconceptualise freedom. Following their cue, I draw on the strengths of Frank and Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy while avoiding their dangerous extremes. (shrink)
In this essay Megan J. Laverty argues that Jean-Jacques Rousseau's conception of humane communication and his proposal for teaching it have implications for our understanding of the role of listening in education. She develops this argument through a close reading of Rousseau's most substantial work on education, Emile: Or, On Education. Laverty elucidates Rousseau's philosophy of communication, beginning with his taxonomy of the three voices—articulate, melodic, and accentuated—illustrating the ways in which they both enhance and obfuscate understanding. Next, Laverty provides (...) an account of Rousseau's philosophical psychology, with specific reference to amour-propre and amour de soi. Listening plays a central role in Rousseau's philosophy of communication, Laverty maintains, because it is in the act of listening that humans fulfill, or fail to fulfill, the imperative that we seek to understand others. (shrink)
New concepts may prove necessary to profit from the avalanche of sequence data on the genome, transcriptome, proteome and interactome and to relate this information to cell physiology. Here, we focus on the concept of large activity-based structures, or hyperstructures, in which a variety of types of molecules are brought together to perform a function. We review the evidence for the existence of hyperstructures responsible for the initiation of DNA replication, the sequestration of newly replicated origins of replication, cell division (...) and for metabolism. The processes responsible for hyperstructure formation include changes in enzyme affinities due to metabolite-induction, lipid-protein affinities, elevated local concentrations of proteins and their binding sites on DNA and RNA, and transertion. Experimental techniques exist that can be used to study hyperstructures and we review some of the ones less familiar to biologists. Finally, we speculate on how a variety of in silico approaches involving cellular automata and multi-agent systems could be combined to develop new concepts in the form of an Integrated cell (I-cell) which would undergo selection for growth and survival in a world of artificial microbiology. (shrink)
In his recent article, ‘A Gift to Theology? Jean-Luc Marion's ‘Saturated Phenomena’ in Christological Perspective’, Brian Robinette has critiqued Marion's phenomenology for confining theology to a one-sided approach to Christology, one that stresses only the passive, mystical reception of Christ. To correct this imbalance, Robinette brings Marion into dialogue with those more active Christologies or ‘prophetical-ethical’ liberation theologies of Gustavo Gutierrez, Johann Baptist Metz and others that stress a life-praxis focused on confronting evil and suffering. In this essay I am (...) arguing that Robinette has not fully developed the ‘logic’ of Marion's phenomenology of the ‘call and the gifted’, in which both a passive and an active element are operative. I explore more fully that very dynamic phenomenological process of the call-and-the-gifted as developed in Marion's work Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness. Once viewed in Christological perspective, and especially in light of Christ's death and resurrection, Marion's phenomenology entails an ethical trope consistent with the mission of Christ as rendered in Scriptural revelation, and thus the gap between Marion's work and the prophetical-ethical theologies of Gutierrez and Baptist Metz becomes narrowed. (shrink)
French theorist Jean Baudrillard is one of the foremost contemporary critics of society and culture who is often seen as the guru of French postmodern theory. A prolific author who has written over twenty books, reflections on art and aesthetics are an important, if not central, aspect of his work. Although his writings exhibit many twists, turns, and surprising developments as he moved from synthesizing Marxism and semiotics to a prototypical postmodern theory, interest in art remains a constant of his (...) theoretical investigations and literary experiments. (shrink)