Pascal wager argument essay

If you regularly brush your teeth, there is some chance you will go to heaven and enjoy infinite bliss. On the other hand, there is some chance you will enjoy infinite heavenly bliss even if you do not brush your teeth. Therefore the expectation of brushing your teeth (infinity plus a little extra due to oral health = infinity) is the same as that of not brushing your teeth (infinity minus a bit due to cavities and gingivitis = infinity), from which it follows that dental hygiene is not a particularly prudent course of action. In fact, as soon as we allow infinite utilities, decision theory tells us that any course of action is as good as any other (Duff 1986). Hence we have a reductio ad absurdum against decision theory, at least when it’s extended to infinite cases. In reply to such difficulties, Jordan 1993 proposes a run-off decision theory as described above.

But this makes an enormous difference to how we understand the decision problem. Suppose first that God exists, and suppose that you try to believe. Before we took it for granted that the upper left hand corner of the payoff matrix should contain an infinite payoff, since the divine reward for believing is infinite felicity. But now this is not so clear. If you try to believe there is some probability that you will succeed, in which case you will get the infinite benefit; but there is also some probability that you will fail, in which case your will pay the infinite penalty. Suppose that p is the probability of succeeding in your most earnest attempt to believe, and 1-p is the probability of failing. Then the expected utility of TRY TO BELIEVE, given that God exists, is

How should you bet? Regardless of any evidence for or against the existence of God, Pascal argued that failure to accept God's existence risks losing everything with no payoff on any count. The best bet, then, is to accept the existence of God. There have been several objections to the wager: that a person cannot simply will himself to believe something that is evidently false to him; that the wager would apply as much to belief in the wrong God as it would to disbelief in all gods, leaving the the believer in any particular god in the same situation as the atheist or agnostic; that God would not reward belief in him based solely on hedging one's bets; and so on.

Thus, donors who are donating but not donating enough may be condemning themselves to Hell. [note 1] Roko notes in the post that at least one Singularity Institute person had already worried about this scenario, to the point of nightmares, though it became convention to blame Roko for the idea — and Roko proposes a solution permitting such donors to escape this Hell for the price of a lottery ticket: if you buy a lottery ticket, there's an instance of you in some Everett branch who will win the lottery. If you bought your ticket with a firm precommitment that you would donate all winnings to AI research, this would count as fulfilling your end of the acausal bargain. Roko was asked in the comments if he was actually doing all this, and answered "sure".

Pascal wager argument essay

pascal wager argument essay

Thus, donors who are donating but not donating enough may be condemning themselves to Hell. [note 1] Roko notes in the post that at least one Singularity Institute person had already worried about this scenario, to the point of nightmares, though it became convention to blame Roko for the idea — and Roko proposes a solution permitting such donors to escape this Hell for the price of a lottery ticket: if you buy a lottery ticket, there's an instance of you in some Everett branch who will win the lottery. If you bought your ticket with a firm precommitment that you would donate all winnings to AI research, this would count as fulfilling your end of the acausal bargain. Roko was asked in the comments if he was actually doing all this, and answered "sure".

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