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The ethics and morality of Pascal's wager

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by Pooja Sadhu, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    And I would agree if you knew the danger existed.

    In this case we're reacting to a theoretical possibility in a situation some have presented that appeals directly to our most basic fears.

    I don't think there is any way to rate the probability's of Gods or what people say they are promising or threatening.

    What I can rate is that some of these claims by religions are false as they don't mesh up, so there's little to go on.

    I can quite confidently state that these claims are coercion, and emotional manipulation, because they are regardless of their truth.

    It would just be a matter of who put us in a situation where we can't adequately assess things and wants a specific decision regardless of it's foundation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  2. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    If the danger is commonly held (between the two parties in dialogue) then it functions as the premise of an argument, thus constituting an attempt at persuasion rather than manipulation.

    If you read Pascal you will see that both he and his interlocutor believe that eternal damnation is a strong possible consequence of unbelief. Pascal therefore makes use of this premise in his argument.

    Perhaps you disagree with Pascal's premise. In that case you should say, "Pascal, your argument is unsound due to a false premise regarding eternal damnation." What you should not say is, "Pascal you are engaging in emotional manipulation." It is abundantly clear that Pascal is not engaging in emotional manipulation. An easy way to see this is to observe the fact that Pascal himself believes his argument to be sound. It applies not just to others, but to himself as well, and no one manipulates themselves.

    You haven't even defined emotional manipulation.
     
  3. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    It would be more like "Pascal have you considered that your argument furthers a problematic use of emotional manipulation in an attempt to get people to believe?"

    And also "Pascal I think the setup you've chosen here actually paints God almighty in a particularly bad light for putting so many people in such a precarious position"

    Funny I am pretty sure one consequence of the wager is that it suggests you should be capable of manipulating yourself into belief if you wager the "Christianity is true" option without first believing in it.

    I am not sure how capable people are of manipulating themselves, but Pascal seems to think so.

    He might also not need any convincing here and intends the argument for others, especially if he already takes as a premise that eternal damnation is a realistic fear.
     
  4. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Why is Pascal's argument problematic? Time to stop with the childish assertions.
     
  5. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    Well your believer friend should tell you not to use name calling in the place of real argument, or you could take your own advice.

    Because it's wrong to use peoples deepest fears and desires in order to motivate them to take a position you want them to take when you don't know the truth of the matter.

    If it is true than it becomes problematic that God want's you motivated this way too.
     
  6. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Why not? If both of you agree that one course of action has a high probability of resulting in a great deal of pain and sadness, then what is wrong with motivating one another along those lines?
     
  7. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    Well I'm not sure why "If both of you agree that one course of action has a high probability of resulting in a great deal of pain and sadness" is a condition.

    How high a probability would do?
     
  8. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    It doesn't matter, so long as the motivation is proportionate. People are perfectly free to reason and argue on the basis of premises they agree on. There is nothing "problematic" about it. :scratch:
     
  9. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    I think it is particularly problematic to use peoples fears to motivate them when you don't know if those fears are well founded. Even if you were afraid yourself. It would be akin to spreading paranoia. The appropriate course of action is further study.
     
  10. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    What if I believe that their fear is well-founded and I share the fear myself?
     
  11. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    How do you know it is well founded?

    If you do, then you've got a better argument.

    If you strongly believe in the foundation of your fear then why you strongly believe is a better argument.

    If you strongly believe it without foundation you don't have an argument, or, at least not a good one.
     
  12. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    If you've ever studied epistemology then you know how slippery definitions and theories of knowledge are.

    For example, we don't know what happens at and after death. Therefore on your theory two nutritionists discussing the best nutrition for a long life are engaging in "problematic emotional manipulation." Why? Because their conversation is premised on the fear of death. Yet they don't know that death is bad! Heck, death might be freedom from the constraining limitations of the physical world!

    The maxim, "One may only discuss motivational matters with others if those matters are built on strict and rigorous knowledge," is entirely unrealistic and unpersuasive. Indeed it probably devolves into base thought-policing fairly quickly given the fact that rigorous accounts of the justification required for true knowledge too often fall into subjective cracks.

    Why would two people who already agree to a premise spend extra time buttressing that premise? That makes no sense.

    Again, the rational thing for an atheist to do is to call the argument unsound. But you feel the need to attack Pascal's motives. There is simply no warrant for that.
     
  13. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    From a rational perspective:

    Essentially what you're asking me is if I think it's a good idea to use base fear to guide my decision making in place of actual truth seeking.

    How likely is that to get in the way if the best and most reasonable position is one I am afraid of.
     
  14. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Fear is just aversion to a possible future evil. In its essence it is perfectly rational. I fear rattlesnakes because I don't want to die. My fear helps me to make wise decisions that will prolong my life.

    Pascal is just making an argument which is based on a danger that he believes exists. That's all. If you don't believe the danger exists then the argument naturally has no purchase on you. If you do believe that the danger exists then it is rational to fear it and to try to avoid it. Either way it's not problematic emotional manipulation.
     
  15. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    Interesting that you should again pick a death question, something I say is a basic psychological fear.

    People do say they think stuff like that but they still consult nutritionists. Whether or not they should fear death there isn't really any harm in prolonging life. Suicidal people may be an exception here, they fear prolonging their life more than they fear death.

    People do fear death regardless of what they say in my opinion and it is at least in part the fear of the unknown that comes with it.

    So, it's kind of the opposite idea here really. What we don't know often makes us afraid. I think this is also the case with the wager here. The argument seems based on what we don't know.

    Ok. Then the basis for your fears lacks a considerable amount of justification. Why would you then try to spread them?

    Because if you already strongly believe there is a possibility of Christian derived hell you already accept the conclusion, it makes no sense to put a second argument on top off it.

    Why you accepted that premise is the real question in that system.

    I don't know what Pascals motives are, I'm criticizing the actions.

    My motivation now is to get some sleep though goodnight.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  16. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    All you really seem to be saying is that you don't believe the premise. You don't believe the danger exists. You don't see the justification to believe in the danger.

    No. Any rational argument leads from premise to conclusion, from the better-known to the less-known. Someone could very well believe in the possibility of Hell without inferring the conclusions regarding belief. That is what Pascal's argument attempts to remedy.

    No, that's just your pet interest. It interests you because you reject the premise. I assure you that Pascal's audience didn't give that premise a second thought.

    I have never seen an accusation of "Problematic emotional manipulation" that wasn't at the same time a criticism of motives.

    Me too. Goodnight.
     
  17. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

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    Saying "less precision" sounds like quite an understatement to me. If the heart pointed only in the direction of Christianity, but confused our understanding of some specific doctrines, that would be one thing. But if it could point to Christianity or Scientology, those coordinates are quite far apart.

    I think it's great that we have a heart to feel good and I think it's great that folks generally feel good when they do good, so it's great that it causes more good. But as a guide to the truth it's horrendous, not just imprecise.
     
  18. variant

    variant Happy Cat

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    Well I don't, but it's more on the level of You don't seem to think the premise needs any real justification.

    You seem to think that it's enough that the two people agree to it and their justifications don't matter.

    So like all arguments, garbage in garbage out. Not like all arguments though, this one would like to take any (even a remote and unfounded) belief in that one premise and magnify it.

    I don't think so. That's not really the structure of the argument. The end result of the wager seems to be true even if we know very little about it's premises being true, as you just said.

    It is an attempt to weight any fear we might have (no matter how remote) of that one premise being true more heavily than we actually know (as you just pointed out), not a usual rational deduction where we actually know the premises more than the conclusion.

    An easy audience doesn't make for a better argument. In this case I think it makes the argument worse given that the premise contains the dubious emotional appeal to a fear of the unknown.

    Well in this case I've said the religion contains a problematic emotional manipulation that Pascal has designed an argument to spread. That is hardly likely to be his actual motivation even if true.

    People can obviously buy into and make arguments for problematic emotional manipulation without being cognisant of that being what they are doing.

    Which is why I might chose this line of argument instead of a different one, not because I'm "taking pot shots" but rather because I see the the idea in that premise differently than the people using it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  19. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Leaving aside the important question of whether the heart guides one to Scientology, Pascal is clear that the intellect has been engaged and found wanting. In the case of Scientology the intellect, when engaged, dismisses the thesis.
     
  20. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Premises that have been justified and accepted by both dialogue parties do not require further justification within the dialogue. This is common sense.

    When speaking with another person do you spend a great deal of time justifying premises that you both already agree upon? Do you enjoy those echo chambers? If not the application of your rule is very selective.

    How so?

    Like any argument, Pascal relies on the better-known premise of the possibility of eternal damnation and makes inferences that conclude with belief.

    Easy because they disagree with you? That's shoddy reasoning.

    If you continue to beg the question with such abandon I will quit you as Silmarien has. I remember you as a much more careful thinker. Continually parroting the words "dubious emotional appeal" without any accompanying rational justification will not get you very far with me. It's just a bit of silly bullying or a non-rational attempt at conditioning.
     
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