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Pascal’s Wager

September 25th, 2009

Pascal’s Wager

classification : informal – fallacy of distraction

An argument based on probability theory for why one should live as if God exists, even though this cannot be proved or disproved through reason formulated by Blaise Pascal.

Foundations

Mathematically a finite gain or loss is negligible compared to an infinite gain or loss. Therefore, he concluded that it was a much better choice to believe in God rather than to practice atheism.

Illustration

1. If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven; thus an infinite gain.
2. If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever; thus an infinite loss.
3. If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded; thus a finite loss.
4. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life; thus a finite gain.

Other Names

False Dilemma

Categories: Logic
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