Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager - o Agnosticism and atheism have the effect...

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You Bet Your Life! Pascal’s Wager 9/7 Practical versus theoretical rationality o Good evidence (a priori or a posteriori) is not the only way of justifying a belief. o A belief might be justified by being expedient. o Perhaps using theoretical rationality to support theism is a dead end? Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) o French mathematician, philosopher, and inventor o Invented first calculating machine and the syringe o Thought up the basis of probability theory o “The Wager”: belief in God is justified not because of evidence, but because it’s in your best interest or because it is expedient. Pascal’s “Wager” o “If there is a God…we are incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is.” o “’God is, or He is not.’ But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here…A game is being played…where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager?” “but you must wager” o Theism is a wager that the GCB exists
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Unformatted text preview: o Agnosticism and atheism have the effect of wagering that the GCB does not exist. o “If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose all.” o “Life is good. Eternal life is better.” • Practical rationality again o You have a set of available actions. o There are a number of possible states of the world o You have a set of outcomes for those options, depending on how the world is. o You assign a value ranking to each of those possible outcomes • Questions for Pascal o Suppose I’m convinced that it is practically rational to be a theist. Can I really make myself believe something? o Would a GCB really reward someone who became a believer on such self-interested grounds? • Cargile’s Question o How do we know that the possible owner-operator of the universe is the sort of being who will send religious people to Heaven? (p.253)...
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course PHIL 100 taught by Professor Green during the Fall '06 term at UVA.

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