The Many Gods Objection to Pascal’s Wager

Philo 15 (2):158-178 (2012)
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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 this paper is to offer a defensive strategy of a different sort, one more suited to the Wager’s apologetic aim and status as a decision under ignorance. Instead of turning to criteria independent of the Wager, it will be shown that there are characteristics already built into its decision theoretic structure that can be used to block many categories of theological hypotheses including MGO’s more outrageous “cooked-up” hypotheses and “philosophers’ fictions”. Please note that there are editorial errors in the published version. They have been corrected in the attached.



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Lawrence Pasternack
Oklahoma State University

Citations of this work

Salvaging Pascal’s Wager.Elizabeth Jackson & Andrew Rogers - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (1):59-84.
Pascal's wager.Michael Rota - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (4):e12404.

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References found in this work

Cogito, ergo sum: Inference or performance?Jaakko Hintikka - 1962 - Philosophical Review 71 (1):3-32.
Two conceptions of the highest good in Kant.Andrews Reath - 1988 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 26 (4):593-619.
Grace and religious belief in Pascal.Michael Moriarty - 2003 - In Nicholas Hammond (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Pascal. Cambridge University Press. pp. 144--61.

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