Pascals Wager: Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God

Hardcover | November 26, 2006

byJeff Jordan

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What if there is no strong evidence that God exists? Is belief in God when faced with a lack of evidence illegitimate and improper? Evidentialism answers yes. According to Evidentialism, it is impermissible to believe any proposition lacking adequate evidence. And if any thesis enjoys thestatus of a dogma among philosophers, it is Evidentialism. Presenting a direct challenge to Evidentialism are pragmatic arguments for theism, which are designed to support belief in the absence of adequate evidence. Pascal's Wager is the most prominent theistic pragmatic argument, and issues inepistemology, the ethics of belief, and decision theory, as well as philosophical theology, all intersect at the Wager. Other prominent theistic pragmatic arguments include William James's celebrated essay, 'The Will to Believe'; a posthumously published and largely ignored pragmatic argumentauthored by J.S. Mill, supporting the propriety of hoping that quasi-theism is true; the eighteenth-century Scottish essayist James Beattie's argument that the consoling benefit of theistic belief is so great that theistic belief is permissible even when one thinks that the existence of God is lesslikely than not; and an argument championed by the nineteenth-century French philosopher Jules Lachelier, which based its case for theistic belief on the empirical benefits of believing as a theist, even if theism was very probably false. In Pascal's Wager: Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God, Jeff Jordan explores various theistic pragmatic arguments, and the objections employed against them. Jordan presents a new version of the Wager, what he calls the 'Jamesian Wager', and argues that the Jamesian Wager survives the objectionshurled against theistic pragmatic arguments and provides strong support for theistic belief. In addition to arguing for a sound version of the Wager, Jordan also argues that there is a version of Evidentialism compatible with a principled use of pragmatic arguments, and that the Argument fromDivine Silence fails. Objections found in Voltaire, Hume, and Nietzsche against the Wager are scrutinized, as are objections issued by Richard Swinburne, Richard Gale, and other contemporary philosophers. The ethics of belief, the many-gods objection, the problem of infinite utilities, and thepropriety of a hope based acceptance are also examined.

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From the Publisher

What if there is no strong evidence that God exists? Is belief in God when faced with a lack of evidence illegitimate and improper? Evidentialism answers yes. According to Evidentialism, it is impermissible to believe any proposition lacking adequate evidence. And if any thesis enjoys thestatus of a dogma among philosophers, it is E...

Jeff Jordan is at the University of Delaware.

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Paperback|Jun 28 1996

$41.78 online$46.95list price(save 11%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.75 inPublished:November 26, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199291322

ISBN - 13:9780199291328

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Castaway's Fire1. Pascal's Many Wagers2. The Ethics of Belief3. An Embarrassment of Riches?4. The Problem of Infinite Utilities5. Showstoppers?6. God, Hope, and Evidence7. Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God