Infinite Return: Two Ways of Wagering with Pascal
Wetzel (James)
Source: Religious Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 1993) (pp. 139-149)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Pascal's wager has fascinated philosophers far in excess of its reputation as effective apologetics. Very few of the wager's defenders, in fact, have retained more than an academic interest in its power to persuade.
  2. Partly this is a matter of good manners. Pascal is supposed to have pitched his wager at folks who understand only self-interested motivations, and today it is no longer fashionable for defenders of theism to disparage the character of their opponents.
  3. But partly the low-key concern with apologetics expresses a philosophical judgement. Pascal's defenders have found the question of the wager's audience to be less philosophically engaging than the logic of its argument.
  4. I believe that this assessment is mistaken. The most puzzling feature of Pascal's wager is its invocation of infinite utility. What are finite human beings, theists or otherwise, supposed to make of the idea of an infinitely desirable happiness?
  5. There are, I will argue, two sorts of response to this question, and depending on which sort Pascal had in mind, the logic of his wager comes out very differently.


Makropulos Case1; Pascal's Wager

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