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Pascal's Wager


Part of Classic Philosophical Arguments

Paul Bartha, Lawrence Pasternack, James Franklin, William Wood, Paul Moser, Adam Buben, Jeff Jordan, Alan Hájek, Craig Duncan, Paul Saka, Joshua Golding, Elliott Sober, Graham Oppy, Susanna Rinard, Sylvia Wenmackers
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  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316632659

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About the Authors
  • In his famous Wager, Blaise Pascal (1623–62) offers the reader an argument that it is rational to strive to believe in God. Philosophical debates about this classic argument have continued until our own times. This volume provides a comprehensive examination of Pascal's Wager, including its theological framework, its place in the history of philosophy, and its importance to contemporary decision theory. The volume starts with a valuable primer on infinity and decision theory for students and non-specialists. A sequence of chapters then examines topics including the Wager's underlying theology, its influence on later philosophical figures, and contemporary analyses of the Wager including Alan Hájek's challenge to its validity, the many gods objection, and the ethics of belief. The final five chapters explore various ways in which the Wager has inspired contemporary decision theory, including questions related to infinite utility, imprecise probabilities, and infinitesimals.

    • The introduction includes a guide to infinite decision theory
    • Chapters range over the Wager's historical context, its continuing influence, and the objections which it has faced
    • Offers the first new collection of essays on Pascal's Wager for twenty-five years
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Given the importance of Pascal's wager, both intrinsically and in terms of its historical influence, this book is an important contribution to the literature.' B. T. Harding, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316632659
    • length: 346 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 173 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 65 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Paul Bartha and Lawrence Pasternack
    Part I. Historical Context and Influence:
    1. Pascal's Wager and the origins of decision theory: decision-making by real decision-makers James Franklin
    2. The Wager and Pascal's theology William Wood
    3. Pascal's Wager and the ethics for inquiry about God Paul Moser
    4. Pascal and his Wager in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Adam Buben
    5. The Wager and William James Jeff Jordan
    Part II. Assessment:
    6. The (in)validity of Pascal's Wager Alan Hájek
    7. The many gods objection to Pascal's Wager: a defeat, then a resurrection Craig Duncan
    8. The Wager as decision under ignorance: decision-theoretic responses to the many gods objection Lawrence Pasternack
    9. Rationality and the Wager Paul Saka
    10. The role of Pascal's Wager in authentic religious commitment Joshua Golding
    Part III. Extensions:
    11. The arbitrary prudentialism of Pascal's Wager and how to overcome it by using game theory Elliott Sober
    12. Pascal's Wager and the dynamics of rational deliberation Paul Bartha
    13. Infinity in Pascal's Wager Graham Oppy
    14. Pascal's Wager and imprecise probability Susanna Rinard
    15. Do infinitesimal probabilities neutralize the infinite utility in Pascal's Wager? Sylvia Wenmackers.

  • Editors

    Paul Bartha, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
    Paul Bartha is Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He is the author of By Parallel Reasoning: The Construction and Evaluation of Analogical Arguments (2010).

    Lawrence Pasternack, Oklahoma State University
    Lawrence Pasternack is Professor of Philosophy at Oklahoma State University. His publications include Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kant on Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (2013).


    Paul Bartha, Lawrence Pasternack, James Franklin, William Wood, Paul Moser, Adam Buben, Jeff Jordan, Alan Hájek, Craig Duncan, Paul Saka, Joshua Golding, Elliott Sober, Graham Oppy, Susanna Rinard, Sylvia Wenmackers

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