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Lecture 11

PHLA10H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Decision Matrix, Omnipotence, Omnibenevolence

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William Seager

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Lecture 11: Necessary Beings and Wagers and Evil
Wolf Puzzle: http://utsc.utoronto,ca/~seager/wolf.pdf
Necessary Beings
Verification of God (Continued…)
According to the positivists, every statement is (in principle) decidable
Either via understanding the concepts in the statement
oThis might be very hard (Ex. Mathematics)
Or we need to observe nature
oThis might be very hard
oThere must be some experience which, if one had it, would raise or lower the
probability of the statement
Some statements are unverifiable (in principle) and so are meaningless.
oThe sentence “God exists” is meaningless; it’s neither true nor false
oExample: The world was created 5 minutes ago exactly as it was 5 minutes ago
oThere are totally undetectable entities in the world
oEverything doubled in size one minute ago (?)
Verificationists believe: “If there is no way to verify a statement, it is meaningless”
Do not confuse positivism with the need for science to make observable predictions
Is the positivist principle verifiable? Is it analytic?
Is it not plausible that there could be features of the world that are undetectable and
Let P be an unknown fact (there are lots)
It is unknowable that P is unknowable
oIf you knew P was an unknowable fact, you would know P
oThus it would stop being unknown.
The design argument suggests some auxiliary hypotheses which make “God exists” falsifiable or
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Possible example: Since God is perfect, He will only make perfectly designed things. There will
be no imperfect adaptations in nature.
oThere are imperfect adaptations however.
oIs ‘God exists’ falsified?
oTheodicy is the task of explaining why the apparent evidence against ‘God exists’ is not
really good evidence.
o(‘defense’ is just showing God is not ruled out ...)
New auxiliary hypotheses can be introduced.
What is wrong with this one: if God exists, then everything in the world will be
exactly as we observe it?
Wagers and Evil: Pascal’s Wager
Prudential and Evidential Reasons for belief
Suppose I offer you ten bucks if you believe that there if life on Mars (assuming you don’t
You don’t care on way or the other
It’s an easy ten dollars
You have a prudential reason to believe
But you have no evidential reason to believe (based on my offer)
An evidential reason increases the probability of the belief
oExample: you learn that Mars has methane in its atmosphere and it’s hard to think of
any source expect living organisms
Blaise Pascal
Philosopher of the 17th century
Invented the theory of probability (with Fermat and the Chevalier de Mere)
oAfter being asked about a gambling problem
oWhat are the chances – when rolling dice – of getting 10 and of getting 9?
Invented decision theory
The “expected utility” of an action
Multiply the chance of the action succeeding by the “payoff” (utility) of the successful outcome
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