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Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager

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Encyclopedia
Pascal's Wager, also known as Pascal's Gambit, is a suggestion posed by the French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 philosopher, mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, and physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal , was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen...

 that even if the existence of God
Existence of God
Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

 could not be determined through reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

, a rational person should wager
Gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

 as though God exists, because one living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. Pascal formulated his suggestion uniquely on the God of Jesus Christ as implied by the greater context of his Pensées
Pensées
The Pensées represented a defense of the Christian religion by Blaise Pascal, the renowned 17th century philosopher and mathematician. Pascal's religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism, and the Pensées was in many ways his life's work. "Pascal's Wager" is found here...

, a posthumously published collection of notes made by Pascal in his last years as he worked on a treatise
Treatise
A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject.-Noteworthy treatises:...

 on Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

. The Wager was set out in note 233 of this work.

Following his argument establishing the Wager, Pascal addressed the possibility that some people may not be willing to sincerely believe in God even after acknowledging the enormous benefit of betting in favor of God's existence. In this case, he advises them to live as though they had faith, which may subvert their irrational passions and lead them to genuine belief.

Following the publication of Pascal's Wager, some have argued that the Wager may also apply to conceptions of God within different religious traditions or belief systems, and as such has been used in traditions other than Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, such as Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Historically, Pascal's Wager was groundbreaking because it charted new territory in probability theory
Probability theory
Probability theory is the branch of mathematics concerned with analysis of random phenomena. The central objects of probability theory are random variables, stochastic processes, and events: mathematical abstractions of non-deterministic events or measured quantities that may either be single...

, marked the first formal use of decision theory
Decision theory
Decision theory in economics, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and statistics is concerned with identifying the values, uncertainties and other issues relevant in a given decision, its rationality, and the resulting optimal decision...

, and anticipated future philosophies such as existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

, pragmatism
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

, and voluntarism.

The Wager


The philosophy uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées
Pensées
The Pensées represented a defense of the Christian religion by Blaise Pascal, the renowned 17th century philosopher and mathematician. Pascal's religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism, and the Pensées was in many ways his life's work. "Pascal's Wager" is found here...

, part III, note 233):
  1. "God is, or He is not"
  2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
  4. You must wager. It is not optional.
  5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

Context


The wager builds on the theme of other Pensées where Pascal systematically dismantles the notion that we can trust purely in reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

. However, he does not consider reason to be useless or irrelevant. On the contrary, in note 273, he says, "If we submit everything to reason, our religion will have no mysterious and supernatural element. If we offend the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous." So, while Pascal is not precluding the use of reason, much of his notes are geared toward attacking absolute certainty, attempting to convince the reader of what he sees as the true range and limits of reason. As such, his work is often cited as one of the first works on Existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 for thoughts like the following:
Category Quotation(s)
Uncertainty in all This is what I see, and what troubles me. I look on all sides, and everywhere I see nothing but obscurity. Nature offers me nothing that is not a matter of doubt and disquiet.
Uncertainty in Man's purpose For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.
Uncertainty in reason There is nothing so conformable to reason as this disavowal of reason.
Uncertainty in science There no doubt exist natural laws, but once this fine reason of ours was corrupted, it corrupted everything.
Uncertainty in religion If I saw no signs of a divinity, I would fix myself in denial. If I saw everywhere the marks of a Creator, I would repose peacefully in faith. But seeing too much to deny Him, and too little to assure me, I am in a pitiful state, and I would wish a hundred times that if a god sustains nature it would reveal Him without ambiguity.

We understand nothing of the works of God unless we take it as a principle that He wishes to blind some and to enlighten others.
Uncertainty in skepticism It is not certain that everything is uncertain.


Pascal asks the reader to analyze the position of mankind, this crisis of existence and lack of complete understanding. While Mankind can discern a great deal through reason, it is also hopelessly removed from knowing everything through it. He describes Mankind as a finite being trapped within an incomprehensible infinity. Thrust into being from non-being for a brief life only to go out again, with no explanation whatsoever of "Why?" or "What?" or "How?". The finite nature of our being constrains reason with respect to every form of knowledge. Now, assuming that reason alone cannot determine whether or not God exists, the ontological question is reduced to a coin toss. However, making a choice to live as though God exists or does not exist is unavoidable even if the ontological question is inconclusive. In Pascal's assessment, participation in this Wager is not optional because Mankind is already thrust into existence. So even if God's existence cannot be independently confirmed or denied, nevertheless the Wager is necessary and the possible scenarios must be considered and decided upon pragmatically.

Explanation



The wager is described in Pensées this way:
Pascal begins by painting a situation where both the existence and non-existence of God are impossible to prove by human reason. So, supposing that reason cannot determine the truth between the two options, one must "wager" by weighing the possible consequences. Pascal’s assumption is that, when it comes to making the decision, no one can refuse to participate; withholding assent is impossible because we are already "embarked", effectively living out the choice.

We only have two things to stake, our "reason" and our "happiness". Pascal considers that if there is "equal risk of loss and gain" (i.e. a coin toss), then human reason is powerless to address the question of whether God exists or not. That being the case, we then human reason can only decide the question according to possible resulting happiness of the decision, weighing the gain and loss in believing that God exists and likewise in believing that God does not exist.

He points out that if a wager was between the equal chance of gaining two lifetimes of happiness and gaining nothing, then a person would be a fool to bet on the latter. The same would go if it was three lifetimes of happiness versus nothing. He then argues that it is simply unconscionable by comparison to bet against an eternal life of happiness for the possibility of gaining nothing. The wise decision is to wager that God exists, since "If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing", meaning one can gain eternal life
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 if God exists, but if not, one will be no worse off in death than if one had not believed. On the other hand, if you bet against God, win or lose, you either gain nothing or lose everything. You are either unavoidably annihilated (in which case, nothing matters one way or the other) or lose the opportunity of eternal happiness. In note 194, speaking about those who live apathetically betting against God, he sums up by remarking, "It is to the glory of religion to have for enemies men so unreasonable..."

Analysis with decision theory


The possibilities defined by Pascal's Wager can be thought of as a decision under uncertainty with the values of the following decision matrix. (Pascal did not mention hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

, nor did he address what the outcome would be of "God exists + Living as if God does not exist," the prospect of infinite gain being sufficient to make his point.)
God exists (G) God does not exist (~G)
Belief (B) +∞ (heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

)
+1 (moral benefits)
Disbelief (~B) −∞ (hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

)
-1 (immoral consequences)



Given these values, the option of living as if God exists (B) dominates the option of living as if God does not exist (~B), as long as one assumes a positive probability that God exists. In other words, the expected value gained by choosing B is greater than or equal to that of choosing ~B.

In fact, according to decision theory, the only value that matters in the above matrix is the +∞. Any matrix of the following type (where f1, f2, and f3 are all finite positive or negative numbers) results in (B) as being the only rational decision.

God exists (G) God does not exist (~G)
Belief (B) +∞ f1
Disbelief (~B) f2 f3


Criticism


Pascal's Wager has been criticized, even starting in its own day. Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, writing a generation after Pascal, rejected the wager as "indecent and childish... the interest I have to believe a thing is no proof that such a thing exists." Pascal, however, did not advance the wager as a proof, but rather as a necessary pragmatic decision that is impossible to avoid.
He argues that since abstaining is not an option, and assuming that reason cannot dictate the truth of the situation one way or the other, the decision to believe in God or not must be made by considering the consequences of the possible scenarios.

Argument from inconsistent revelations



Since there have been many religions throughout history, and therefore many conceptions of gods, some assert that all of them need to be factored into the wager, in an argument known as the argument from inconsistent revelations
Argument from inconsistent revelations
The argument from inconsistent revelations, also known as the avoiding the wrong hell problem, is an argument against the existence of God. It asserts that it is unlikely that God exists because many theologians and faithful adherents have produced conflicting and mutually exclusive revelations...

. This would lead to a high probability of believing in the wrong god, which destroys the mathematical advantage Pascal claimed with his Wager. Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

, a contemporary of Voltaire, concisely expressed this opinion when asked about the wager, saying "an Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 could reason the same way". J. L. Mackie
J. L. Mackie
John Leslie Mackie was an Australian philosopher, originally from Sydney. He made significant contributions to the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language, and is perhaps best known for his views on meta-ethics, especially his defence of moral skepticism.He authored six...

 notes that "the church within which alone salvation is to be found is not necessarily the Church of Rome
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, but perhaps that of the Anabaptists or the Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

 or the Muslim Sunnis or the worshipers of Kali
Kali
' , also known as ' , is the Hindu goddess associated with power, shakti. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means "Time" or "Death" . Hence, Kāli is...

 or of Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

."

Pascal considered this objection briefly among his notes compiled into the Pensées, and dismisses the objection as disingenuous:
This short but densely packed passage, which alludes to numerous themes discussed elsewhere in the Pensées, has given rise to many pages of scholarly analysis.

Pascal says that unbelievers who rest content with the many-religions objection are people whose scepticism has seduced them into a fatal "repose". If they were really bent on knowing the truth, they would be persuaded to examine "in detail" whether Christianity is like any other religion, but they just cannot be bothered. Their objection might be sufficient were the subject concerned merely some "question in philosophy", but not "here, where everything is at stake". In "a matter where they themselves, their eternity, their all are concerned", they can manage no better than "a superficial reflection" ("une reflexion légère") and, thinking they have scored a point by asking a leading question
Leading question
In common law systems that rely on testimony by witnesses, a leading question or suggestive interrogation is a question that suggests the answer or contains the information the examiner is looking for. For example, this question is leading:...

, they go off to amuse themselves.

As Pascal scholars observe, Pascal regarded the many-religions objection as a rhetorical ploy, a "trap" that he had no intention of falling into. If, however, any who raised it were sincere, they would want to examine the matter "in detail". In that case, they could get some pointers by turning to his chapter on "other religions".

As David Wetsel notes, Pascal's treatment of the pagan religions is brisk: "As far as Pascal is concerned, the demise of the pagan religions of antiquity speaks for itself. Those pagan religions which still exist in the New World, in India, and in Africa are not even worth a second glance. They are obviously the work of superstition and ignorance and have nothing in them which might interest 'les gens habiles' ('clever men')" Islam warrants more attention, being distinguished from paganism (which for Pascal presumably includes all the other non-Christian religions) by its claim to be a revealed religion. Nevertheless, Pascal concludes that the religion founded by Mohammed can on several counts be shown to be devoid of divine authority, and that therefore, as a path to the knowledge of God, it is as much a dead end as paganism. Judaism, in view of its close links to Christianity, he deals with elsewhere.

The many-religions objection is taken more seriously by some later apologists of the wager, who argue that, of the rival options, only those awarding infinite happiness affect the wager's dominance
Dominance (game theory)
In game theory, strategic dominance occurs when one strategy is better than another strategy for one player, no matter how that player's opponents may play...

. In the opinion of these apologists "finite, semi-blissful promises such as Kali's or Odin's" therefore drop out of consideration. Also, the infinite bliss that the rival conception of God offers has to be mutually exclusive. If Christ's promise of bliss can be attained concurrently with Jehovah's
Jehovah
Jehovah is an anglicized representation of Hebrew , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton , the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible....

 and Allah's
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 (all three being identified as the God of Abraham
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

), there is no conflict in the decision matrix in the case where the cost of believing in the wrong conception of God is neutral (limbo/purgatory/spiritual death), although this would be countered with an infinite cost in the case where not believing in the correct conception of God results in punishment (hell).

Furthermore, ecumenical interpretations of the Wager argue that it could even be suggested that believing in a generic God, or a god by the wrong name, is acceptable so long as that conception of God has similar essential characteristics of the conception of God considered in Pascal's Wager (perhaps the God of Aristotle
Aristotelian view of God
The Aristotelian and Neo-Aristotelian views of God have been influential in Western intellectual history.-The Metaphysics:In his book on first philosophy, which most now call the Metaphysics, Aristotle discussed the meaning of "being as being". Aristotle concluded that "being" primarily refers to...

). Proponents of this line of reasoning suggest that either all of the conceptions of God or gods throughout history truly boil down to just a small set of "genuine options", or that if the Pascal's Wager can simply bring a person to believe in "generic theism" it has done its job.

Argument from inauthentic belief


Some critics argue that Pascal's Wager could only ever be an argument for feigning belief, which is dishonest. In addition, it is absurd to think that God, being just and omniscient, would not be able to see through this deceptive strategy on behalf of the "believer", nullifying the benefits of the wager.

It is to be noted that these criticisms are concerned not with the validity of the wager itself, but with its possible aftermath, namely that a person who has been convinced of the overwhelming odds in favor of belief still finds himself unable to sincerely believe. Therefore, this critique is tangential to the thrust of the wager. What critics are objecting to is Pascal's subsequent advice to an unbeliever who, having concluded that the only rational way to wager is in favor of God's existence, points out, reasonably enough, that this by no means makes him a believer. His hypothetical unbeliever complains, "I am so made that I cannot believe. What would you have me do?" Pascal, far from suggesting that God can be deceived by outward show, says that God does not regard it at all: "God looks only at what is inward." For a person who is already convinced of the odds of the wager but cannot seem to put his heart into the belief, Pascal offers his practical advice.

Explicitly addressing the question of inability to believe, Pascal argues that if the wager is valid, the inability to believe is irrational, and therefore must be caused by feelings: "your inability to believe, because reason compels you to [believe] and yet you cannot, [comes] from your passions." This inability, therefore, can be overcome by diminishing these irrational sentiments: "Learn from those who were bound like you. . . . Follow the way by which they began: that is by doing everything as if they believed, by taking holy water, by having Masses said, etc. Naturally, even this will make you believe and will dull you. -'But this is what I am afraid of.'- And why? What have you to lose?"

Following in a similar vein, some other critics have objected to Pascal's Wager on the grounds that he wrongly assumes what type of epistemic character God would likely value in his rational creatures if he existed. More specifically, Richard Carrier
Richard Carrier
Richard Cevantis Carrier is an American historian. He is best known for his writings on Internet Infidels, otherwise known as the Secular Web, where he served as Editor-in-Chief for several years....

 has objected by positing an alternative conception of God that prefers his creatures to be honest inquirers and disapproves of thoughtless or feigned belief:
However, as already noted above, nowhere in the establishment of the wager does Pascal appeal to feigned belief; God, being omniscient, would not be subject to such trickery and unwittingly reward the disingenuous. Rather, in a passage following the establishment of the wager, Pascal addresses a hypothetical person who has already weighed the rationality of believing in God through the wager, being convinced by it but unable to sincerely believe. Again, as noted above, Pascal offers him a way to escape his irrational sentiment compelling him to withhold belief in God after the validity of the wager has been rationally conceded, namely by applying oneself to spiritual discipline, study, and community.

So, this "alternative" scenario of God valuing rational belief and honest inquiry which is offered by Carrier and other critics is actually not much different from Pascal's own formulation of the scenario. Indeed, Pascal is unabashed in his criticism of people who are apathetic towards considering the issue of whether God exists. In note 194, he retorts: "This carelessness in a matter which concerns themselves, their eternity, their all, moves me more to anger than pity; it astonishes and shocks me; it is to me monstrous." Far from glorifying blind irrationality, one of the chief aims of Pascal's arguments in the Pensees was to shake people out of their ignorant complacency so they could rationally approach this most crucial existential matter. Pascal says in note 225: "Atheism shows strength of mind, but only to a certain degree." Unbelievers who persistently endeavor in an honest, rational effort to search for the truth are commended by Pascal, to the exclusion of those who are dismissive and disingenuous.

Variations

  • The Sophist Protagoras
    Protagoras
    Protagoras was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist or teacher of virtue...

     had an agnostic position regarding the gods, but he nevertheless continued to worship the gods. This could be considered as an early version of the wager.

  • In the famous tragedy of Euripides
    Euripides
    Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

     Bacchae
    The Bacchae
    The Bacchae is an ancient Greek tragedy by the Athenian playwright Euripides, during his final years in Macedon, at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis, and which...

    , Kadmos states an early version of Pascal's wager. It is noteworthy that at the end of the tragedy Dionysos, the god to whom Kadmos referred, appears and punishes him for thinking in this way. Euripides
    Euripides
    Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

    , quite clearly, considered and dismissed the wager in this tragedy.

  • The Christian apologist Arnobius of Sicca (d.330) stated an early version of the argument in his book Against the Pagans.

  • An instantiation of this argument
    Argument
    In philosophy and logic, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, or give evidence or reasons for accepting a particular conclusion.Argument may also refer to:-Mathematics and computer science:...

    , within the Islamic kalam tradition, was discussed by Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni
    Al-Juwayni
    Imam al-Haramayn Dhia' ul-Din Abd al-Malik ibn Yusuf al-Juwayni al-Shafi'i was a Sunni Shafi'i hadith and Kalam scholar...

     (d. 478/1085) in his Kitab al-irshad ila-qawati al-adilla fi usul al-i'tiqad, or A Guide to the Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief.

  • In the Sanskrit
    Sanskrit
    Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

     classic Sārasamuccaya, Vararuci
    Vararuci
    Vararuci is a name associated with several literary and scientific texts in Sanskrit and also with various legends in several parts of India. This Vararuci is often identified with Kātyāyana...

     makes a similar argument to Pascal's wager.

See also

  • Appeal to consequences
    Appeal to consequences
    Appeal to consequences, also known as argumentum ad consequentiam , is an argument that concludes a premise to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences...

  • Atheist's Wager
    Atheist's Wager
    The Atheist's Wager is an atheistic response to Blaise Pascal's Wager. While Pascal suggested that it is better to take the chance of believing in a god that might not exist rather than to risk losing infinite happiness by disbelieving in a god that does, the Atheist's Wager suggests...

  • Decision Theory
    Decision theory
    Decision theory in economics, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and statistics is concerned with identifying the values, uncertainties and other issues relevant in a given decision, its rationality, and the resulting optimal decision...

  • Ecclesiastes
    Ecclesiastes
    The Book of Ecclesiastes, called , is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The English name derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title.The main speaker in the book, identified by the name or title Qoheleth , introduces himself as "son of David, king in Jerusalem." The work consists of personal...

  • Existentialism
    Existentialism
    Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

  • Game Theory
    Game theory
    Game theory is a mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances, such as in games, where a person’s success is based upon the choices of others...

  • Pensées
    Pensées
    The Pensées represented a defense of the Christian religion by Blaise Pascal, the renowned 17th century philosopher and mathematician. Pascal's religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism, and the Pensées was in many ways his life's work. "Pascal's Wager" is found here...


External links


Standard references:

Primary text


Support


Objections

  • The Empty Wager by Sam Harris
    Sam Harris (author)
    Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

  • The Rejection of Pascal's Wager by Paul Tobin
  • Pascal's Mugging by Nick Bostrom

Revisions