Livres  P. Engel, Identité et référence, la théorie des noms propres chez Frege et Kripke, Paris : Presses de l’École normale supérieure.  P. Engel, La Norme du vrai, philosophie de la logique, Paris : Gallimard, 3e éd.  P. Engel, The Norm of Truth, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Logic, New York : Harvester Wheatsheaf. Traduction en anglais de  par P. Engel & M. Kochan.  P. Engel, États d’esprit, questions de philosophie de l’esprit, Aix-en-Pro...
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.
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, ...
Pascal was a scientist and man of the world who came to be a passionately devout Christian. The fragments of his great defense of Christianity, left unfinished at his death in 1662, survive in the form of the Pensees. This series of brief, dramatic notes on his religious convictions are here translated into English. These thoughts expose Pascal's vision of the world and display powerful reasoning and a profound faith.
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)
One version of Pascal’s Wager says we should commit to, or cultivate belief in, whatever religion we think is most likely to bring us eternal joy. I pose a reductio for this version of the Wager. After exploring some ways the Pascalian might respond, the verdict is that it provides some reason to suspect that somewhere, somehow, the Wager goes wrong.
Many of our questions about religion, says renowned anthropologist Pascal Boyer, are no longer mysteries. We are beginning to know how to answer questions such as "Why do people have religion?" Using findings from anthropology, cognitive science, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Religion Explained shows how this aspect of human consciousness is increasingly admissible to coherent, naturalistic explanation. This brilliant and controversial book gives readers the first scientific explanation for what religious feeling is really about, what it consists of, and (...) where it comes from. (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.
Pascal’s wager has to face the many gods objection. The wager goes wrong when it asks us to chose between Christianity and atheism, as if there are no other options. Some have argued that we’re entitled to dismiss exotic, bizarre, or subjectively unappealing religions from the scope of the wager. But they have provided no satisfying justification for such a radical wager-saving dispensation. This paper fills that dialectical gap. It argues that some agents are blameless or even praiseworthy for (...) ignoring all but one religion as they face the wager. The argument leads us to multiple Pascals: a Jewish one, a Christian one, a Muslim one, and more. (shrink)
People outside France have always wondered why analytical philosophy has had so little influence in this country, while it has gained currency in many other European countries, such as Germany and Italy, not to speak of Northern Europe, where the analytical tradition is strongly established. This can be explained only by a particular conjunction of historical, cultural, sociological and maybe economical factors, which it would be too long to detail here. If there are natural characters of nations, there is no (...) reason to believe that there are no philosophical characters of nations. As Hume said, the characters of nations can have physical as well as moral causes. As for the physical causes, everybody in Britain knows how insular the Continent can be. So if there is such a thing as French analytical philosophy, nobody will be surprised to learn that it is very insular. Before presenting some of the work done by French philosophers related to the analytical tradition, let me try to give what I take to be some of the moral causes of their insularity. (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 a well-known paper, Nick Bostrom presents a confrontation between a fictionalised Blaise Pascal and a mysterious mugger. The mugger persuades Pascal to hand over his wallet by exploiting Pascal's commitment to expected utility maximisation. He does so by offering Pascal an astronomically high reward such that, despite Pascal's low credence in the mugger's truthfulness, the expected utility of accepting the mugging is higher than rejecting it. In this article, I present another sort of high (...) value, low credence mugging. This time, the mugger utilises research on existential risk and the long-term potential of humanity to exploit Pascal's expected-utility-maximising descendant. This mugging is more insidious than Bostrom's original as it relies on plausible facts about the long-term future, as well as realistic credences about how our everyday actions could, albeit with infinitesimally low likelihood, affect the future of humanity. (shrink)
This eloquent and philosophically astute translation is the first complete English translation based on the Sellier edition of Pascal's manuscript, widely accepted as the manuscript that is closest to the version Pascal left behind on his death in 1662. A brief history of the text, a select bibliography of primary and secondary sources, a chronology of Pascal’s life and works, concordances between the Sellier and Lafuma editions of the original, and an index are provided.
In Pascal’s famous wager, he claims that the seeking non-believer can induce genuine religious belief in herself by joining a religious community and taking part in its rituals. This form of belief regulation is epistemologically puzzling: can we form beliefs in this way, and could such beliefs be rationally held? In the first half of the paper, we explain how the regimen could allow the seeking non-believer to regulate her religious beliefs by intervening on her evidence and epistemic standards. (...) In the second half of the paper, we argue that regulated religious beliefs can be rationally held. (shrink)
"I know of no religious writer more pertinent to our time."—T. S. Eliot, Introduction to Pensees Intended to prove that religion is not contrary to reason, Pascal's Pensees rank among the liveliest and most eloquent defenses of Christianity. Motivated by the seventeenth-century view of the supremacy of human reason, Pascal (1623–1662) had intended to write an ambitious apologia for Christianity in which he argued the inability of reason to address metaphysical problems. His untimely death prevented the work's completion, (...) but the fragments published posthumously in 1670 as Pensees remain a vital part of religious and philosophical literature. W. F. Trotter translation. Introduction by T. S. Eliot. (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)
Imagine you and your friend Pierre agreed on meeting each other at a café, but he does not show up. What is the difference between a friend’s not showing up meeting? and any other person not coming? In some sense, all people who did not come show the same kind of behaviour, but most people would be willing to say that the absence of a friend who you expected to see is different in kind. In this paper, I will spell (...) out this difference by investigating laypeople’s conceptualisation of absences of actions in four experiments. In languages such as German, French, Italian, or Polish, people consider a friend’s not coming an omission. Any other person’s not coming, in contrast, is not considered an omission at all, but just a mere nothing. This use of the term omission differs from the usage in English, where ‘omission’ refers to all kinds of absences. In addition, ‘omission’ is not even an everyday term, but invented by philosophers for the sake of philosophical investigation. In other languages, ‘omission’ is part of an everyday vocabulary. Finally, I will discuss how this folk concept of omission could be made fruitful for philosophical questions. (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)
For much of his life Pascal (1623-62) worked on a magnum opus which was never published in its intended form. Instead, he left a mass of fragments, some of them meant as notes for the Apologie. These were to become known as the Pensées, and they occupy a crucial place in Western philosophy and religious writing. Pascal's general intention was to confound scepticism about metaphysical questions. Some of the Pensées are fully developed literary reflections on the human condition,, (...) some contradict others, and some remain jottings whose meaning will never be clear. The most important are among the most powerful aphorisms about human experience and behaviour ever written in any language. This translation is the only one based on the Pensées as Pascal left them. It includes the principal dossiers classified by Pascal, as well as the essential portion of the important Writings on Grace. A detailed thematic index gives access to Pascal's areas of concern, while the selection of texts and the introduction help to show why Pascal changed the plan of his projected work before abandoning the book he might have written. (shrink)
This field study investigated the relationship between strategic human resource management, internal environmental concern, organizational citizenship behavior for the environment, and environmental performance. The originality of the present research was to link human resource management and environmental management in the Chinese context. Data consisted of 151 matched questionnaires from top management team members, chief executive officers, and frontline workers. The main results indicate that organizational citizenship behavior for the environment fully mediates the relationship between strategic human resource management and environmental (...) performance, and that internal environmental concern moderates the effect of strategic human resource management on organizational citizenship behavior for the environment. (shrink)
A growing literature is taking an institutionalist and governance perspective on how algorithms shape society based on unprecedented capacities for managing social complexity. Algorithmic governance altogether emerges as a novel and distinctive kind of societal steering. It appears to transcend established categories and modes of governance—and thus seems to call for new ways of thinking about how social relations can be regulated and ordered. However, as this paper argues, despite its novel way of realizing outcomes of collective steering and coordination, (...) it can nevertheless be grasped with an old and fundamental figure in political philosophy: that of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Comparing algorithmic governance with this figure serves to highlight their similarities as socio-political arrangements, and specifically to clarify how algorithmic governance parallels the apolitical traits of the Leviathan—it eliminates the political as it requires compliance and forgoing contestation to best fulfill its role and to produce satisfying outcomes. (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)