The Ethics of Belief and the Will to Believe: A Critique of “Pascal’s Wager”

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Essay #: 060826
Total text length is 8,944 characters (approximately 6.2 pages).

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The beginning:
The Ethics of Belief and the Will to Believe: A Critique of "Pascal's Wager"
The French philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) is probably best known today for what has come to be known as “Pascal's Wager.” This wager suggests that our human powers of reason are limited, and therefore if we are to consider the existence of God or an afterlife, we have no choice but to “bet” that the reward which can come from believing is greater than the loss which may come from disbelieving. It has been said that Pascal's Wager is “the first well-understood contribution to decision theory” (“Pascal's Wager,” 1.1). The wager has also contributed to our concepts of probability theory and thinking pragmatically about infinity. However, this paper will...
The end:
.....Contemporary Review, 1877. Accessed 30 May 2010 from: http://tinyurl.com/fhgs.
James, William. “The Will to Believe.” Originally published in The New World Vol. 5, 1896. Transcribed for HTML by William O'Meara. Harrisonburg, VA: James Madison University, 1997. Accessed 30 May 2010 from: http://falcon.jmu.edu/~omearawm/ph101willtobelieve.html.
Jordan, Jeff. Pascal's Wager: Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006.
Pascal, Blaise. Pensees. Introduction by T.S. Eliot. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1958. Accessed 30 May 2010 from: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18269/18269-h/18269-h.htm.
“Pascal's Wager.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1998. Accessed 30 May 2010 from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager.