PREFACE When in the year 1940 I ventured a small volume under the title The Secret of Pascal, I honestly did not expect to write further on the topic. But circumstances ordered otherwise. The needs of Cambridge students and the difficulty, ...
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.
De drie korte verhandelingen over de positie van hooggeplaatsten moeten gezien worden als een schakel in de lange keten van de literair-filosofische traditie van de Vorstenspiegels, die met name in de Italiaanse Renaissance zeer geliefd waren. Pascal volt echter deze voorbeelden maar gedeeltelijk, omdat hij een nieuwe macht introduceert, waaraan ook de groten der aarde onderworpen zijn, nl. de macht van het geloof. Zijn bespiegelingen over macht, morele plicht en verantwoordelijkheid zijn nog steeds actueel.
RÉSUMÉ: Bas van Fraassen soutient que le «Principe de Réflexion» constitue une contrainte sur la rationalité et il rattache ce principe à une sorte de volontarisme épistémologique, c’est-à-dire la doctrine selon laquelle la croyance est affaire de volonté. Je soutiens que la version du volontarisme qui est compatible à la fois avec le Principe de Réflexion et avec l’idée de van Fraassen que les jugements épistémiques constituent une forme d’engagement, est tout à fait différente du volontarisme qu’envisageaient William James ou (...) Blaise Pascal. En fait, la prétention de van Fraassen d’avoir établi une théorie libératrice et pragmatique de la connaissance est mise en question par sa propre thèse selon laquelle le Principe de Réflexion sert d’appui à son volontarisme. Van Fraassen ne peut sauver le Principe de Réflexion que dans le cadre d’une théorie de la connaissance plus restrictive que celle qu’il envisage. (shrink)
As part of the conference commemorating Theoria's 75th anniversary, a round table discussion on philosophy publishing was held in Bergendal, Sollentuna, Sweden, on 1 October 2010. Bengt Hansson was the chair, and the other participants were eight editors-in-chief of philosophy journals: Hans van Ditmarsch (Journal of Philosophical Logic), Pascal Engel (Dialectica), Sven Ove Hansson (Theoria), Vincent Hendricks (Synthese), Søren Holm (Journal of Medical Ethics), Pauline Jacobson (Linguistics and Philosophy), Anthonie Meijers (Philosophical Explorations), Henry S. Richardson (Ethics) and Hans Rott (...) (Erkenntnis). (shrink)
Le premier chapitre d'une Phénoménologie de l'acte philosophique, que nous publions ici, met en lumière la structure onto-théo-logique de toute philosophie possible. II comporte les paragraphes suivants: 1. Existence et Pensée. – Une définition radicale de la pensée humaine présuppose une réflexion sur le Sum dans lequel s'enracine le Cogito. Cette première réflexion ne peut se faire que de manière spontanée et naïve. L'identité de l'existence et de la pensée n'est pas une possibilité humaine, mais oriente et fonde comme idéal (...) le mouvement philosophique. 2. Archè - ousia - telos. – L'essence de l'être humain est tendance et mouvement (kinèsis) d'une nature spéciale. 3. La destination (Bestimmung) de l'homme. – Par une réflexion transcendentale sur le dynamisme appétitif de l'homme on découvre la „position” ontologique d'une Fin absolue et infinie comme fondement a priori de toute vie humaine en tant qu'elle est besoin et désir. Les étappes de la voie qui conduit au Fondement ultime de la perfection humaine, sont les suivants : 1) l'accueil naïf de l'être qui se montre, 2) la perte de tous les étants dans le Néant, résultant dans une angoisse profonde, et 3) la découverte du Bien infini comme „Rien de tout cela”. 4. „Tune me chercherais pas, situne m'avais trouvé” (Pascal) ou: „Comment le Dieu arrive - t - il dans la philosophie?" (Heidegger). - En tant que recherche du pourquoi radical, la philosophie - et, plus fondamentalement, l'être humain comme être pensant et „logique” - ne peut s'effectuer qu'en affirmant a priori, dans tout ce qu'elle demande, dit, met en doute etc., le Fondement dernier et premier de toute vérité : la Vérité elle-même, qui, dès le début de la vie humaine et philosophique, se présente en s'absentant. 5. Unica demonstratio Dei. – La preuve métaphysique et la preuve anthropologique de l'existence de Dieu sont deux paraphrases radicalement identiques du mouvement de „fondation” qui est l'essence de l'être humain. Tous les arguments conduisant à l'affirmation philosophique de Dieu, ne composent en réalité qu'une seule démonstration, qui coïncide avec le tout de la philosophie. Pour acquérir une connaissance explicite de ce qu'est le Fondement radical, le philosophe doit rendre plus concret le contenu de la fondation transcendentale qui relie ce Fondement au fond de l'existence humaine. Dans ce but il parcourt et traverse les stades 1) de l'existence „économique” jouissant du cosmos (argument cosmologique ; cosmo -théo -logie) , 2) de l'existence sociale se découvrant a) obligée au respect et b) appelée à la communion fraternelle (socio-théo-logie), et 3) de l'ipséité qui fait l'expérience de soi-même comme don gratuit, – pour apprendre finalement que le cercle égologique englobant les étapes énumérées, est lui-même un don du Dieu donnant, qui - peut-être - va parler. 6. Vérité et apparence. – La philosophie est essentiellement une explicitation de la fondation originaire qui affirme Dieu-dans-le-monde ou le-monde-en-Dieu. A cause de la déviation historique de toute philosophie concrète, l'expérience de la recherche du vrai comporte aussi et d'abord une (re-) Conversion au véritable Fondement, qui est la fin et le début de tout penser. 7. Itinerarium mentis in Deum. – Une phénoménologie de l'acte philosophique doit surmonter les phénoménologies superficielles par une réflexion sur les différentes philosophies de notre passé, dans lesquelles elle reconnaît des „phénomènes” systématiques explicitant l'affirmation originaire de la Vérité elle-même. Pour préparer une méthodologie de cette phénoménologie méta-philosophique, une discussion avec le projet de la Phénoménologie de l'Esprit hégélienne s'impose. Ce chapitre ne donne qu'une ébauche de quelques lignes directrices d'une telle méthodologie. (shrink)
Behavioural and neuroscientific research has provided evidence for a strong functional link between the neural motor system and lexical?semantic processing of action-related language. It remains unclear, however, whether the impact of motor actions is restricted to online language comprehension or whether sensorimotor codes are also important in the formation and consolidation of persisting memory representations of the word's referents. The current study now demonstrates that recognition performance for action words is modulated by motor actions performed during the retention interval. Specifically, (...) participants were required to learn words denoting objects that were associated with either a pressing or a twisting action (e.g., piano, screwdriver) and words that were not associated to actions. During a 6?8-minute retention phase, participants performed an intervening task that required the execution of pressing or twisting responses. A subsequent recognition task revealed a better memory for words that denoted objects for which the functional use was congruent with the action performed during the retention interval (e.g., pepper mill?twisting action, doorbell?pressing action) than for words that denoted objects for which the functional use was incongruent. In further experiments, we were able to generalize this effect of selective memory enhancement of words by performing congruent motor actions to an implicit perceptual (Experiment 2) and implicit semantic memory test (Experiment 3). Our findings suggest that a reactivation of motor codes affects the process of memory consolidation and emphasizes therefore the important role of sensorimotor codes in establishing enduring semantic representations. The authors thank Pascal de Water and Gerard van Oijen for technical support and Markus van Ackeren for help in creating stimulus material. The authors would also like to thank Eelco van Dongen, Michael Masson, Art Glenberg, and Diane Pecher for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The study was supported by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research NWO-VICI grant (453-05-001) to the third author and NWO-VENI grant (016-094-053) to the last author. (shrink)
Many think that Pascal’s Wager is a hopeless failure. A primary reason for this is because a number of challenging objections have been raised to the wager, including the “many gods” objection and the “mixed strategy” objection. We argue that both objections are formal, but not substantive, problems for the wager, and that they both fail for the same reason. We then respond to additional objections to the wager. We show how a version of Pascalian reasoning succeeds, giving us (...) a reason to pay special attention to the infinite consequences of our actions. (shrink)
Presumed consent alone will not solve the organ shortage, but it will create an ethical and legal context that supports organ donation, respects individuals who object to organ donation, relieves families from the burden of decision making, and can save lives.
Pascal’s Wager does not exist in a Platonic world of possible gods, abstract probabilities and arbitrary payoffs. Real decision-makers, such as Pascal’s “man of the world” of 1660, face a range of religious options they take to be serious, with fixed probabilities grounded in their evidence, and with utilities that are fixed quantities in actual minds. The many ingenious objections to the Wager dreamed up by philosophers do not apply in such a real decision matrix. In the situation (...)Pascal addresses, the Wager is a good bet. In the situation of a modern Western intellectual, the reasoning of the Wager is still powerful, though the range of options and the actions indicated are not the same as in Pascal’s day. (shrink)
The observable/unobservable distinction, realistically construed, is a feature which lies at the very heart of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. The aim of this paper is to approach it by taking a close look at van Fraassen’s concept of observation. We will argue that if van Fraassen’s most recent writings about “literate experience”, especially his remarks on the status of observation reports and his general a-metaphysical stance, are taken into account, his realistic interpretation of the observable/unobservable distinction paves the road for (...) inconsistency. In particular, we will show that a dilemma emerges to the effect that van Fraassen is forced to accept skeptical consequences blatantly at odds with constructive empiricism and its restatement of the aim of science. We will finally suggest that the only way out for van Fraassen involves giving up his realistic construal of observability and thus taking sides with constructivism. (shrink)
Most students of Tocqueville know of his remark, “There are three men with whom I live a little every day; they are Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau.” In this paper I trace out the contours of Pascal’s influence upon Tocqueville’s understanding of the human condition and our appropriate response to it. Similar temperaments lead both Tocqueville and Pascal to emphasize human limitations and contingency, as Peter Lawler rightly emphasizes. Tocqueville and Pascal both emphasize mortality, ignorance of the (...) most important subjects, the effects of historical contingency on what we take to be human nature, and both represent the complex internal dynamic of human nature in terms of the interplay of “angel” and “brute.” The most important difference between them concerns their relative estimates of human power and the significance of human action. Whereas the motif of human weakness is fundamental for Pascal, Tocqueville repeatedly affirms that, under the right conditions, human beings are “powerful and free.” Beginning from Pascalian premises, and endeavoring to be more faithful to some of those premises than Pascal himself was, Tocqueville aims to illuminate the possibility of an amelioration of the human condition through a “new political science” that redeems the political realm without divinizing it. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and (...) influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
In medical research, the ethical principle of respect for persons is operationalized into the process of informed consent. The consent tools should be contextualized and adapted to the different socio-cultural environment, especially when research crosses the traditional boundaries and reaches poor communities. We look at the challenges experienced in the malaria Quinact trial, conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and describe some lessons learned, related to the definition of acceptable representative, the role of independent witness and the impact of (...) socio-economic vulnerability. To ensure children's protection, consent is required by the parents or, in their absence, by a legally mandated representative. In our setting, children's responsibility is often entrusted permanently or temporarily to relatives or friends without a tribunal mandate. Hence, a notion of ‘culturally acceptable representative’ under supervision of the local Ethics Committee may be more suitable. To ensure protection of illiterate subjects, an independent witness is required to confirm that the consent was freely given. However, in low-literacy contexts, potential witnesses often don't have any previous relationship with patient and there may be power-unbalance in their relationship, rather than genuine dialogue. In poor communities, trial participation may be seen as an opportunity to secure access to healthcare. Poverty may also lead to ‘competition’ to access the research-related benefits, with a risk of disturbance at societal or household level. Adjusting consent procedures to sociocultural and socioeconomic realities is essential for fulfilling the underlying ethical principles. This requires a collaborative dialogue between researchers, regulators and ethics committees. (shrink)
We show that van Lambalgen's Theorem fails with respect to recursive randomness and Schnorr randomness for some real in every high degree and provide a full characterization of the Turing degrees for which van Lambalgen's Theorem can fail with respect to Kurtz randomness. However, we also show that there is a recursively random real that is not Martin-Löf random for which van Lambalgen's Theorem holds with respect to recursive randomness.
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”. -/- Please note that there are editorial errors in the published version. They have been corrected in the attached. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen ’s argument for incompatibilism uses a sentential operator, “N”, which can be read as “No one has any choice about the fact that....” I show that, given van Inwagen ’s understanding of the notion of having a choice, the argument is invalid. However, a different interpretation of “N” can be given, such that the argument is clearly valid, the premises remain highly plausible, and the conclusion implies that free will is incompatible with determinism.
Some artworks are called sublime because of their capacity to move human imagination in a different way than the experience of beauty. The following discussion explores how Van Gogh’s The Starry Night along with some of his other late landscape paintings accomplish this peculiar movement of imagination thus qualifying as sublime artworks. These artworks constitute examples of the higher aesthetic principles and must be judged according to the cosmological-aesthetic criteria for they manage to generate a transition between ethos and phusis (...) and present them in unity. Here, referring to Heraclitean, Kantian, Nietzschean and Heideggerian metaphysics and aesthetics, I propose that the principles of motion and transition be the new cosmologic-aesthetic categories for the judgment of sublime artworks as well as for the understanding of the world (Weltanschauung) they represent. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s recent book Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective modifies and refines the “constructive empiricism” of The Scientific Image in a number of ways. This paper investigates the changes concerning one of the most controversial aspects of the overall position, that is, van Fraassen’s agnosticism concerning the veridicality of microscopic observation. The paper tries to make plausible that the new formulation of this agnosticism is an advance over the older rendering. The central part of this investigation is an attempt (...) to answer Marc Alspector-Kelly’s 2004-criticism of an early version of van Fraassen’s new position. Alspector-Kelly’s contribution it is to date the most extensive attack on van Fraassen’s twenty-first-century work on the topic of microscopic observation. One of the central ideas emerging from the present discussion is a link between the debate over the veridicality of microscopic observation and the issue of the theory-ladenness of experience. (shrink)
I consider the broad perspectives in biology known as ‘functionalism’ and ‘structuralism’, as well as a modern version of functionalism, ‘adaptationism’. I do not take a position on which of these perspectives is preferable; my concern is with the prior question, how should they be understood? Adapting van Fraassen’s argument for treating materialism as a stance, rather than a factual belief with propositional content, in the first part of the paper I offer an argument for construing functionalism and structuralism as (...) stances also. The argument draws especially on Gould’s insights concerning functionalism and structuralism, in particular their apparent historical continuity from the pre-Darwinian period through to today. In the second part of the paper I consider Godfrey-Smith’s distinction between empirical and explanatory adaptationism, and suggest that while the former is an empirical scientific hypothesis, the latter is closely related to the functionalist stance. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that while his criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global and (...) local arguments from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
Three-dimensional material models of molecules were used throughout the 19th century, either functioning as a mere representation or opening new epistemic horizons. In this paper, two case studies are examined: the 1875 models of van ‘t Hoff and the 1890 models of Sachse. What is unique in these two case studies is that both models were not only folded, but were also conceptualized mathematically. When viewed in light of the chemical research of that period not only were both of these (...) aspects, considered in their singularity, exceptional, but also taken together may be thought of as a subversion of the way molecules were chemically investigated in the 19th century. Concentrating on this unique shared characteristic in the models of van ‘t Hoff and the models of Sachse, this paper deals with the shifts and displacements between their operational methods and existence: between their technical and epistemological aspects and the fact that they were folded, which was forgotten or simply ignored in the subsequent development of chemistry. (shrink)