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We can never know whether we have accumulated all the knowledge in the world or not. This is a general statement. For example, a powerful counterargument against the contingency argument might exist out there that could fatally cripple its usefulness. Again, a powerful counterargument against Pascal's wager might exist out there: maybe, we still just haven't thought of it yet.

Considering the fact that Pascal's wager is fallible, have any attempts been made to rid Pascal's wager of its fallibility? In other words, can Pascal's wager ever be declared to be incapable of being wrong?

Also, has any capable decision-theorist made endeavours to include this fallibility of Pascal's wager into the decision table and make a more complete statement about the decisions one ought to take? For example, assigning a probability p to the outcome that Pascal's wager is invalid (in some convoluted sense that we haven't thought of yet), and including that as a column in the decision table.

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    It's been a while since I watched this, but from memory it's a 2 hour discussion on the robustness of Pascal's wager. Cosmicskeptic vs Dr Liz O'Connor. Jun 26, 2023 at 14:25
  • P=probability that this argument is correct, taking in to account probability that this argument is correct... What?
    – Scott Rowe
    Jun 26, 2023 at 14:46
  • Is this question about Pascal's wager qua Pascal (which starts with the explicit premise that the choice is between Christian God and no god at all and that the chance is "heads or tails", and which is not intended to stand alone but is part of a ~300 page defense of Christian thought), or Pascal's wager as it is commonly presented (a stand-alone reason why one should believe that Christian God exists)?
    – g s
    Jun 26, 2023 at 14:49
  • @gs Neither. It is about the steel-manned version of Pascal's wager (however you may want to steelman it). Jun 26, 2023 at 15:16
  • Then what are the premises and the conclusion?
    – g s
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:23

2 Answers 2

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The p that you’re referring to is either 0 or 1. An argument is either invalid or valid. It makes no sense to talk about the probability of validity of an argument.

In this case, the argument is simply invalid. The simple, most direct response to Pascal’s wager is to simply imagine a God that puts only Christians in hell and everyone else into heaven. Then as per that God, anyone who believes in the Christian god would have an infinite loss, and everyone who doesn’t will have an infinite reward. There is no more evidence for this kind of God to exist than the actual Christian god.

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  • Note that your argument for invalidity changes the wager to a different one than the actual Pascal's Wager. In the case you stated, the choice would be between two competing beliefs which both offer the same risk and reward. This would be a different wager and not conclude the same decision to be made.
    – DKing
    Sep 26, 2023 at 16:06
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Pascal's Wager is an argument from formal logic. It outlines several premises and a conclusion. As such, it can only be wrong if the rules of reason are wrong. In order for formal logic to be wrong, we have to discount any other formal logic, and we would essentially be left with emotional appeals.

It may only either be sound or unsound and valid or invalid.

Regarding soundness, Pascal forms the wager in a very specific way such that it seems to be sound. It is (assuming that the rules of reason are true) necessarily so that the conclusion follows from the premise if the premises are true.

Regarding validity, I think that if it is understood for what it is, the argument is valid as well. It is not, nor has it ever been, an attempt at proving the existence of God. It is a risk-benefit analysis of two very specific over-generalized beliefs. I think that it would be less fair to call it invalid and more fair to argue it's applicability. In this sense, we might be possibly wrong about it's applicability, but the wager itself doesn't address that.

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