Nicholas Hockensmith

Scholar: Nicholas Hockensmith

Nicholas Hockensmith

Major: Mathematics

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Thomas Nickles

Research Topic: Is an Iterated Pascal's Wager a Game Changer?          

Abstract:Is it rational to wager in the belief that God exists? This is a centuries old question made famous by the seventeenth-century French mathematician and philosophical thinker Blaise Pascal. Pascal's Wager originated from Pascal's Pensées where he argues why it is rational to wager in the belief that God exists. Rationality is defined as an agent who maximizes their expected utility. The essence of Pascal's argument revolves around assigning an infinite utility to the event of wagering in the belief that God exists and where God does, in fact, exist; as long as the probability that God exists is greater than zero, wagering in the belief that God exists yields an infinite expected utility. I propose a new version of Pascal's Wager: an Iterated Pascal's Wager (IPW). Pascal's Wager will be divided into two parts: the iterations (or repeated wagers) played in life and a final payoff in death. The IPW consists of solely finite utilities while Pascal's infinite utility is allocated during the payoff in death. Two cases arise in the IPW. The first is an indefinite IPW and the second is a finite IPW. In either case, the argument is made that a person who chooses to wager in the belief that God exists would no longer be playing a rational strategy.

New Scholar: Fall 2009

Graduated With Baccalaureate Degree: May 2011

Masters or Doctoral Program Update: Accepted into a Ph.D. program in Economics at the University of Oregon for fall 2011