, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 417-438
Date: 08 Jul 2009

Ambiguity, pessimism, and rational religious choice

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Abstract

Using a subclass of the α-maximin expected-utility preference model, in which the decision maker’s degree of ambiguity and degree of pessimism are each parameterized, we present a theory of religious choice in the Pascalian decision theory tradition, one that can resolve dilemmas, address the “many Gods objection,” and address the ambiguity inherent in religious choice. Parameterizing both the degree of ambiguity and the degree of pessimism allows one to examine how the two interact to impact choice, which is useful regardless of the application. Applying this model to religious choice is a move beyond subjective expected-utility theory, allowing us to show that a change in either the degree of ambiguity or the degree of pessimism can lead a decision maker to “convert” from one religion to another.