Pascal’s wager and the origins of decision theory: decision-making by real decision-makers

In Paul Bartha & Lawrence Pasternack (eds.), Pascal's Wager. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 27-44 (2018)

James Franklin
University of New South Wales
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, the Wager is a good bet. In the situation of a modern Western intellectual, the reasoning of the Wager is still powerful, though the range of options and the actions indicated are not the same as in Pascal’s day.
Keywords Pascal's Wager  Decision theory  Pascal, Blaise  Sirmond, Antoine
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Pascal's Wager.Alan Hájek - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Pascal's Wager.Michael W. Rota - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (4):e12404.
A Thoroughly Modern Wager.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (2):207-231.
Pascal’s and Tabarrok’s Wagers.Lars Peter Østerdal - 2004 - Theory and Decision 57 (1):1-4.
Pascal's Wager.Paul Bartha & Lawrence Pasternack (eds.) - 2018 - Cambridge University Press.
On Rescher on Pascal's Wager.Graham Oppy - 1991 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 30 (3):159 - 168.
Pascal’s Wager Updated.Richard Shoaf - 1996 - Teaching Philosophy 19 (4):331-335.
Pascal’s Wager Updated.Richard Shoaf - 1996 - Teaching Philosophy 19 (4):331-335.
Waging War on Pascal’s Wager.Alan Hájek - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):27-56.
Pascal's Wager Revisited.Jeff Jordan - 1998 - Religious Studies 34 (4):419-431.
Wagering with and Without Pascal.Daniel Collette & Joseph Anderson - 2018 - Res Philosophica 95 (1):95-110.
Surreal Decisions.Eddy Keming Chen & Daniel Rubio - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.


Added to PP index

Total views
34 ( #230,854 of 2,235,935 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
31 ( #19,495 of 2,235,935 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature