Taking stock of infinite value: Pascal's Wager and relative utilities

Synthese 154 (1):5 - 52 (2007)
Abstract
Among recent objections to Pascal’s Wager, two are especially compelling. The first is that decision theory, and specifically the requirement of maximizing expected utility, is incompatible with infinite utility values. The second is that even if infinite utility values are admitted, the argument of the Wager is invalid provided that we allow mixed strategies. Furthermore, Hájek (Philosophical Review 112, 2003) has shown that reformulations of Pascal’s Wager that address these criticisms inevitably lead to arguments that are philosophically unsatisfying and historically unfaithful. Both the objections and Hájek’s philosophical worries disappear, however, if we represent our preferences using relative utilities (generalized utility ratios) rather than a one-place utility function. Relative utilities provide a conservative way to make sense of infinite value that preserves the familiar equation of rationality with the maximization of expected utility. They also provide a means of investigating a broader class of problems related to the Wager.
Keywords Pascal's Wager  infinite decision theory  infinite utility  relative utility
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA
    Ian Hacking (1972). The Logic of Pascal's Wager. American Philosophical Quarterly 9 (2):186 - 192.
    A. Hajek (2003). Waging War on Pascal's Wager. Philosophical Review 112 (1):27-56.
    Alan Hájek (2000). Objecting Vaguely to Pascal's Wager. Philosophical Studies 98 (1-16):1 - 16.

    View all 10 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    129 ( #5,450 of 1,089,048 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    26 ( #3,928 of 1,089,048 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.