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Chapter 10

PHLA10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Theism, Pragmatism

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William Seager

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Chapter 10 November 22, 2014
Core Questions in Philosophy - Part 2
Pascal and Irrationality
Would it be rational to believe in god even though you think it is enormously improbable
that god exists?
According to Pascal believing that God exists is a sensible wager even if there is no
evidence that God exists
Prudential Reason = believing something because of self interest
Evidential Reason = believing something because you have evidence that the proposition is true
It makes sense to bet on improbable outcomes if the payoff is big enough
multiply the payoff of an action by the chance of the outcome succeeding to get the
Criticism of Pascal's Wager:
He is treating belief as an action - no matter how hard someone tells you there is an
elephant in the room, you can't chose to believe it
Pascal countered this by saying that you can
He is making assumptions about the qualities of God - NOTE: the qualities of god are
not unanimous between different religions
Role of Reason:
Pascal argued that we must provide prudential reasons to believe in God b/c God is
beyond the qualities of reason. - we cannot use "earthly" standards to judge an all
powerful being
It is suggested that God is so shrouded in mystery that one cannot use reason to
validate his existence
Freudian Explanation of Theism:
When it comes to the concept of God, many people are willing to accept ideas that aren't
backed by evidence because they no longer use reason, but faith
Freud believes that there are many psychological benefits to believing in God - Our
existence can be seen as pointless, death is inevitable and the world is dangerous, thus
believing that there is a God and that we have a "greater purpose" gives people
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