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Summary Traditional theistic arguments conclude that God exists. Practical arguments for theism, by contrast, conclude that we have practical reason(s) to believe in God. Pascal's wager is one of the most famous. In his Pensées, Pascal argues that because “there is an infinitely happy life to gain” and “what you stake is finite," it is practically rational to "wager, then, without hesitation that [God] is" (fragments 233-241). There has been much debate about Pascal's argument since, including: what should we say about the fact that there are multiple religions (i.e. the many gods objection)? Does introducing infinities into decision theory give all decisions the same expected value (i.e. the mixed strategies objection)? Is it possible to believe for a practical reason? Is it rational to believe for a practical reason? Can we interpret "wagering" in terms of something other than belief? 
Key works Prominent objections to Pascal's wager include Mougin & Sober 1994, Duff 1986, Hájek 2003, and Bostrom 2009. Prominent defenses of Pascal's wager (and responses to objections) include Lycan & Schlesinger 1988, Jordan 2006Bartha 2007, Monton 2011, Rota 2016 (see also Rota's book, Taking Pascal's Wager, for an extended defense of the wager).  Edited collections on the wager include Jordan 1994 and Bartha & Pasternack 2018.
Introductions Introductions to Pascal's wager include Rota 2017 and Hájek 2008.
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  1. Pragmatic Arguments in the Qur'an for Belief.M. Shahid Alam - manuscript
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  2. Faithfully Taking Pascal’s Wager.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - The Monist.
    This paper examines the relationship between Pascal’s wager, faith, and hope. First, I argue that many who take Pascal’s wager have genuine faith that God exists. The person of faith and the wagerer have several things in common, including a commitment to God and positive cognitive and conative attitudes toward God’s existence. I also argue that if one’s credences in theism are too low to have faith, the wagerer can still hope that God exists, another commitment-justifying theological virtue. I consider (...)
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  3. Infinite Prospects.Jeffrey Sanford Russell & Yoaav Isaacs - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    People with the kind of preferences that give rise to the St. Petersburg paradox are problematic---but not because there is anything wrong with infinite utilities. Rather, such people cannot assign the St. Petersburg gamble any value that any kind of outcome could possibly have. Their preferences also violate an infinitary generalization of Savage's Sure Thing Principle, which we call the *Countable Sure Thing Principle*, as well as an infinitary generalization of von Neumann and Morgenstern's Independence axiom, which we call *Countable (...)
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  4. Can Pascal’s Rationality Rescue the Pandemic Vaccine?Venkat Ramanan - 2021 - Blue Labyrinths.
    How do you convine someone to take the coronavirus vaccine? This essay argues that we an do so by presenting to them a reasoned argument from theology, namely, Pascal's wager.
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  5. Surreal Decisions.Eddy Keming Chen & Daniel Rubio - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (1):54-74.
    Although expected utility theory has proven a fruitful and elegant theory in the finite realm, attempts to generalize it to infinite values have resulted in many paradoxes. In this paper, we argue that the use of John Conway's surreal numbers shall provide a firm mathematical foundation for transfinite decision theory. To that end, we prove a surreal representation theorem and show that our surreal decision theory respects dominance reasoning even in the case of infinite values. We then bring our theory (...)
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  6. Pascal, Pascalberg, and Friends.Samuel Lebens - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87 (1):109-130.
    Pascal’s wager has to face the many gods objection. The wager goes wrong when it asks us to chose between Christianity and atheism, as if there are no other options. Some have argued that we’re entitled to dismiss exotic, bizarre, or subjectively unappealing religions from the scope of the wager. But they have provided no satisfying justification for such a radical wager-saving dispensation. This paper fills that dialectical gap. It argues that some agents are blameless or even praiseworthy for ignoring (...)
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  7. Review of The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity. [REVIEW]Theron Pummer - 2020 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 8.
  8. Non-Archimedean Preferences Over Countable Lotteries.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2020 - Journal of Mathematical Economics 88 (May 2020):180-186.
    We prove a representation theorem for preference relations over countably infinite lotteries that satisfy a generalized form of the Independence axiom, without assuming Continuity. The representing space consists of lexicographically ordered transfinite sequences of bounded real numbers. This result is generalized to preference orders on abstract superconvex spaces.
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  9. Decyzje w sytuacjach niepewności normatywnej.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2020 - Przeglad Filozoficzny - Nowa Seria 29 (2):53-72.
    Etycy nie poświęcali dotąd wiele uwagi niepewności, koncentrując się często na skrajnie wyidealizowanych hipotetycznych sytuacjach, w których zarówno kwestie empiryczne (np. stan świata, spektrum możliwych decyzji oraz ich konsekwencje, związki przyczynowe między zdarzeniami), jak i normatywne (np. treść norm, skale wartości) były jasno określone i znane podmiotowi. W poniższym artykule – który jest rezultatem projektu dotyczącego różnych typów decyzji w sytuacjach niepewności związanej z postępem w naukach i technologiach biomedycznych – przedstawię analizę sytuacji niepewności normatywnej, czyli takich, w których podmiot (...)
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  10. Salvaging Pascal’s Wager.Elizabeth Jackson & Andrew Rogers - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (1):59-84.
    Many think that Pascal’s Wager is a hopeless failure. A primary reason for this is because a number of challenging objections have been raised to the wager, including the “many gods” objection and the “mixed strategy” objection. We argue that both objections are formal, but not substantive, problems for the wager, and that they both fail for the same reason. We then respond to additional objections to the wager. We show how a version of Pascalian reasoning succeeds, giving us a (...)
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  11. Pascal’s Wager.Paul Bartha & Lawrence Pasternack (eds.) - 2018 - Cambridge University Press.
    In his famous Wager, Blaise Pascal 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 (...)
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  12. Pragmatic Encroachment and Theistic Knowledge.Matthew A. Benton - 2018 - In Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Dani Rabinowitz (eds.), Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 267-287.
    If knowledge is sensitive to practical stakes, then whether one knows depends in part on the practical costs of being wrong. When considering religious belief, the practical costs of being wrong about theism may differ dramatically between the theist (if there is no God) and the atheist (if there is a God). This paper explores the prospects, on pragmatic encroachment, for knowledge of theism (even if true) and of atheism (even if true), given two types of practical costs: namely, by (...)
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  13. Wagering with and Without Pascal.Daniel Collette & Joseph Anderson - 2018 - Res Philosophica 95 (1):95-110.
    Pascal’s wager has received the attention of philosophers for centuries. Most of its criticisms arise from how the wager is often framed. We present Pascal’s wager three ways: in isolation from any further apologetic arguments, as leading toward a regimen intended to produce belief, and finally embedded in a larger apology that includes evidence for Christianity. We find that none of the common objections apply when the wager is presented as part of Pascal’s larger project. Pascal’s wager is a successful (...)
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  14. Pascal’s Wager and the Origins of Decision Theory: Decision-Making by Real Decision-Makers.James Franklin - 2018 - In Paul Bartha & Lawrence Pasternack (eds.), Pascal's Wager. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 27-44.
    Pascal’s Wager does not exist in a Platonic world of possible gods, abstract probabilities and arbitrary payoffs. Real decision-makers, such as Pascal’s “man of the world” of 1660, face a range of religious options they take to be serious, with fixed probabilities grounded in their evidence, and with utilities that are fixed quantities in actual minds. The many ingenious objections to the Wager dreamed up by philosophers do not apply in such a real decision matrix. In the situation Pascal addresses, (...)
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  15. Cognitive Bias, the Axiological Question and the Epistemic Probability of Theistic Belief.Dan Linford & Jason Megill - 2018 - In Mirosław Szatkowski (ed.), Ontology of Theistic Beliefs. De Gruyter. pp. 77-92.
    Some recent work in philosophy of religion addresses what can be called the “axiological question,” i.e., regardless of whether God exists, would it be good or bad if God exists? Would the existence of God make the world a better or a worse place? Call the view that the existence of God would make the world a better place “Pro-Theism.” We argue that Pro-Theism is not implausible, and moreover, many Theists, at least, (often implicitly) think that it is true. That (...)
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  16. Infinity in Pascal's Wager.Graham Oppy - 2018 - In Paul Bartha & Lawrence Pasternack (eds.), Pascal's Wager. Cambridge, UK: pp. 260-77.
    Bartha (2012) conjectures that, if we meet all of the other objections to Pascal’s wager, then the many-Gods objection is already met. Moreover, he shows that, if all other objections to Pascal’s wager are already met, then, in a choice between a Jealous God, an Indifferent God, a Very Nice God, a Very Perverse God, the full range of Nice Gods, the full range of Perverse Gods, and no God, you should wager on the Jealous God. I argue that his (...)
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  17. Wagering on an Ironic God: Pascal on Faith and Philosophy by Thomas S. Hibbs. [REVIEW]Graham Oppy - 2018 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 56 (2):372-373.
    This is a short review of Thomas S. Hibbs' book: *Wagering on an Ironic God: Pascal on Faith and Philosophy*.
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  18. Wagering on Pragmatic Encroachment.Daniel M. Eaton & Timothy Pickavance - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 8:96-117.
    Lately, there has been an explosion of literature exploring the the relationship between one’s practical situation and one’s knowledge. Some involved in this discussion have suggested that facts about a person’s practical situation might affect whether or not a person knows in that situation, holding fixed all the things standardly associated with knowledge (like evidence, the reliability of one’s cognitive faculties, and so on). According to these “pragmatic encroachment” views, then, one’s practical situation encroaches on one’s knowledge. Though we won’t (...)
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  19. Michael Rota, Taking Pascal’s Wager: Faith, Evidence, and the Abundant Life. [REVIEW]Michael T. McFall - 2017 - Teaching Philosophy 40 (1):116-119.
  20. No Exception for Belief.Susanna Rinard - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):121-143.
    This paper defends a principle I call Equal Treatment, according to which the rationality of a belief is determined in precisely the same way as the rationality of any other state. For example, if wearing a raincoat is rational just in case doing so maximizes expected value, then believing some proposition P is rational just in case doing so maximizes expected value. This contrasts with the popular view that the rationality of belief is determined by evidential support. It also contrasts (...)
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  21. Pascal's Wager.Michael Rota - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (4):e12404.
    Pascal's wager is an argument in support of religious belief taking its name from the seventeenth century polymath Blaise Pascal. Unlike more traditional arguments for the existence of God, Pascal's wager is a pragmatic argument, concluding not that God exists but that one should wager for God; that is, one should live as if God exists. After an introduction to the elements of decision theory needed to understand the wager, I discuss the interpretation of Pascal's reasoning in the Infini rien (...)
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  22. A Thoroughly Modern Wager.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (2):207-231.
    This paper presents a corrected version of Pascal's wager that makes it consonant with modern decision theory. The corrected wager shows that not committing to God's existence is the rational choice.
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  23. From Desire to Conversion: Pascal's Wager and Girard's Mimetic Theory.Joel Hodge - 2016 - Heythrop Journal 57 (3).
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  24. Wagering Against Divine Hiddenness.Elizabeth Jackson - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (4):85-108.
    J.L. Schellenberg argues that divine hiddenness provides an argument for the conclusion that God does not exist, for if God existed he would not allow non-resistant non-belief to occur, but non-resistant non-belief does occur, so God does not exist. In this paper, I argue that the stakes involved in theistic considerations put pressure on Schellenberg’s premise that non-resistant non-belief occurs. First, I specify conditions for someone’s being a resistant non-believer. Then, I argue that many people fulfill these conditions because, given (...)
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  25. Pragmatic Decisions About God From Different Points of View: The Costs of Apostasy.Cei Maslen - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 80 (2):103-113.
    Pascal, with his famous wager, argued in favour of religious practice and faith by appeal to expected payoffs. Here I discuss an asymmetry in similar pragmatic arguments for decisions about God. I begin with the observation that apostates pay costs not shared by those who never adopt a religion in the first place. Noticing this asymmetry shows these arguments from a new perspective and may also contribute to an explanation of the endurance of religion.
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  26. A Better Version of Pascal’s Wager.Michael Rota - 2016 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 90 (3):415-439.
    The standard version of Pascal’s Wager suffers from serious problems. In this paper I present a modified version of a Wager-style argument that avoids several of the most serious objections to the standard version, viz., the objections of Duff and Hájek relating to infinite utilities, moral objections concerning the use of pragmatic considerations, and the many-gods objection. I argue that a serious commitment to living a Christian life is rational if one is rational in assigning a credence to Christianity of (...)
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  27. Blaise Pascal on Duplicity, Sin and the Fall: The Secret Instinct by William Wood , Vi + 243 Pp.Klaas Bom - 2015 - Modern Theology 31 (2):362-363.
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  28. Napad na Pascala.Nick Bostrom - 2015 - Analiza I Egzystencja 31:135-138.
    Gdzieś w ciemnej uliczce... Bandyta: Ej ty, dawaj portfel! Pascal: A niby dlaczego miałbym to zrobić? Bandyta: Bo w przeciwnym razie cię zastrzelę. Pascal: Ale przecież nie masz broni. Bandyta: A niech to! Wiedziałem, że zapomniałem o czymś. Pascal: No to zapomnij też o moim portfelu. Miłego wieczoru. Bandyta: Stój! Pascal: Co znowu? Bandyta: Jest interes do zrobienia... Co ty na to, żebyś jednak oddał mi portfel? W zamian obiecuję przyjść do ciebie jutro i dać ci dwukrotność kwoty, którą w (...)
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  29. William Wood Blaise Pascal on Duplicity, Sin, and the Fall: The Secret Instinct. . Pp. Viii + 243. £65.00 . ISBN 978 0 19 965636 3. [REVIEW]Kate Kirkpatrick - 2015 - Religious Studies 51 (2):271-275.
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  30. On the Validity of Pascal's Wager.Antony Aumann - 2014 - Heythrop Journal 55 (1):86-93.
    Recent scholarship has shown that the success of Pascal’s wager rests on precarious grounds. To avoid notorious problems, it must appeal to considerations such as what probability we assign to the existence of various gods and what religion we think provides the greatest happiness in this life. Rational judgments concerning these matters are subject to change over time. Some claim that the wager therefore cannot support a steadfast commitment to God. I argue that this conclusion does not follow. By drawing (...)
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  31. Animal Interrupted, or Why Accepting Pascal's Wager Might Be the Last Thing You Ever Do.Sam Baron & Christina Dyke - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1):109-133.
    According to conventionalist accounts of personal identity, persons are constituted in part by practices and attitudes of certain sorts of care. In this paper, we concentrate on the most well-developed and defended version of conventionalism currently on offer (namely, that proposed by David Braddon-Mitchell, Caroline West, and Kristie Miller) and discuss how the conventionalist appears forced either (1) to accept arbitrariness concerning from which perspective to judge one's survival or (2) to maintain egalitarianism at the cost of making “transfiguring” decisions (...)
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  32. A Modern Pascal's Wager for Mass Electronic Surveillance.D. Danks - 2014 - Télos 2014 (169):155-161.
    Debates about the moral permissibility of mass electronic surveillance often turn on whether consequentialist considerations legitimately trump relevant deontological rights and principles. In order to establish such overriding consequences, many proponents of mass surveillance employ a modern analogue of Pascal’s wager: they contend that the consequences of no surveillance are so severe that any probability of such outcomes legitimates the abrogation of the relevant rights. In this paper, I briefly review Pascal’s original wager about whether to live a pious life, (...)
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  33. The Enigma Of Probability.Nick Ergodos - 2014 - Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 2 (1):37-71.
    Using “brute reason” I will show why there can be only one valid interpretation of probability. The valid interpretation turns out to be a further refinement of Popper’s Propensity interpretation of probability. Via some famous probability puzzles and new thought experiments I will show how all other interpretations of probability fail, in particular the Bayesian interpretations, while these puzzles do not present any difficulties for the interpretation proposed here. In addition, the new interpretation casts doubt on some concepts often taken (...)
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  34. Winning Counterterrorism's Version of Pascal's Wager, but Struggling to Open the Purse.Brian J. Gibbs - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (4):368-369.
    Lankford’s (2013) essential empirical argument, which is based on evidence such as psychological autopsies, is that suicide attacks are caused by suicidality. By operationalizing this causal claim in a hypothetical experiment, I show the claim to be provable, and I contend that its truth is supported by Lankford’s data. However, I question the success of his follow-on arguments about beauty and goodness.
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  35. Pascal's Wager Today: Belief and the Gift of Existence.Joel Hodge - 2014 - New Blackfriars 95 (1060):698-710.
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  36. The Wager Renewed: Believing in God is Good for You. [REVIEW]Justin P. McBrayer - 2014 - Science, Religion and Culture 1 (3):130.
    Not all of our reasons for belief are epistemic in nature. Some of our reasons for belief are prudential in the sense that believing a certain thing advances our personal goals. When it comes to belief in God, the most famous formulation of a prudential reason for belief is Pascal’s Wager. And although Pascal’s Wager fails, its failure is instructive. Pascal’s Wager fails because it relies on unjustified assumptions about what happens in the afterlife to those who believe in God (...)
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  37. Search, Rest, and Grace in Pascal.Jennifer L. Soerensen - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (1):19-40.
    For Pascal, how are human beings related, or how do they relate themselves, to the summum bonum in this life? In what sense do they share in it, and how do they come to share in it? These are questions that emerge in many ways in Pascal’s writing, significantly in his concept of repos. To answer these questions, especially by elucidating what repos is for human beings in this life, I would like to begin with Graeme Hunter’s “Motion and Rest (...)
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  38. Treatment Option or Pharmacological Wager?Ann Boyd - 2013 - Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics 4 (4).
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  39. Religion and Secular Utility: Happiness, Truth, and Pragmatic Arguments for Theistic Belief.Craig Duncan - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (4):381-399.
    This article explores “pragmatic arguments” for theistic belief – that is, arguments for believing in God that appeal, not to evidence in favor of God’s existence, but rather to alleged practical benefits that come from belief in God. Central to this exploration is a consideration of Jeff Jordan’s recent defense of “the Jamesian wager,” which portrays itself as building on the case for belief presented in William James’s essay “The Will to Believe.” According to Jordan, religious belief creates significant gains (...)
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  40. Loki's Wager and Laudan's Error.On Genuine & Territorial Demarcation - 2013 - In Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.), Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. University of Chicago Press. pp. 79.
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  41. Pascal’s Wager and Deciding About the Life-Sustaining Treatment of Patients in Persistent Vegetative State.Jukka Varelius - 2013 - Neuroethics 6 (2):277-285.
    An adaptation of Pascal’s Wager argument has been considered useful in deciding about the provision of life-sustaining treatment for patients in persistent vegetative state. In this article, I assess whether people making such decisions should resort to the application of Pascal’s idea. I argue that there is no sufficient reason to give it an important role in making the decisions.
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  42. Pascal's Wager Meets the Replicator Dynamics.Paul Bartha - 2012 - In Jake Chandler Victoria S. Harrison (ed.), Probability in the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford University Press. pp. 187.
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  43. Pascals Wette.Gregor Betz - 2012 - In Georg Bertram (ed.), Philosophische Gedankenexperimente – ein Lese- und Studienbuch. Reclam.
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  44. Mixed Strategies, Uncountable Times, and Pascal's Wager: A Reply to Robertson.Kenny Easwaran & Bradley Monton - 2012 - Analysis 72 (4):681-685.
    Pascal’s Wager holds that one has pragmatic reason to believe in God, since that course of action has infinite expected utility. The mixed strategy objection holds that one could just as well follow a course of action that has infinite expected utility but is unlikely to end with one believing in God. Monton (2011. Mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager. Analysis 71: 642–45.) has argued that mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager, while Robertson (2012. Some mixed strategies can evade Pascal’s (...)
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  45. Faith as a Mustard Seed.Dale Jacquette - 2012 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 17 (2):141-173.
    This investigation of the concept of faith is divided into two parts. Part One evaluates a recent philosophical interpretation of faith as irreducibly disjunctive, collecting the best fragmented ideas as to what constitutes faith in a recent family resemblance exposition as an objective for an adequate essentialist analysis of the concept of faith to achieve. Part Two offers a more extended essentialist analysis of the concept of faith as unconditional patience in the eventuality of a positive future state, and a (...)
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  46. The Many Gods Objection to Pascal’s Wager.Lawrence Pasternack - 2012 - Philo 15 (2):158-178.
    The Many Gods Objection (MGO) is widely viewed as a decisive criticism of Pascal’s Wager. By introducing a plurality of hypotheses with infinite expected utility into the decision matrix, the wagerer is left without adequate grounds to decide between them. However, some have attempted to rebut this objection by employing various criteria drawn from the theological tradition. Unfortunately, such defenses do little good for an argument that is supposed to be an apologetic aimed at atheists and agnostics. The purpose of (...)
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  47. Some Mixed Strategies Can Evade Pascal's Wager: A Reply to Monton.Steven Robertson - 2012 - Analysis 72 (2):295-298.
    The mixed strategy response to Pascal’s Wager avoids Pascal’s conclusion by noting that there are ways to obtain infinite expected utility other than believing in God. We can, for instance, flip a coin and believe in God if the coin lands heads. Bradley Monton has recently argued that rationality requires us to apply mixed strategies repeatedly until we believe in God, and thus that mixed strategies do not evade the Wager. I offer three mixed strategies meet the requirements of rationality (...)
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  48. Pascal Boyer: The Fracture of an Illusion: Science and the Dissolution of Religion.Michael Stausberg - 2012 - Zeitschrift für Religions- Und Geistesgeschichte 64 (1):70-72.
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  49. Pascal's Wager.Leslie Burkholder - 2011 - In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  50. Daniel Garber: What Happens After Pascal's Wager: Living Faith and Rational Belief. [REVIEW]Elizabeth Burns - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242):218-220.
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