Mar 19, 2023Liked by Oscar Starschild

Bullshirt (not a typo): You should tell everyone because of Pascal's Wager and respect for individual conscience. There is a great good in letting people know they only have short time to live: They can make amends for past wrong doing, make final apologies, complete their most important projects, and repent of their sins. By not telling everyone, almost everyone will delay the most important decisions of their lives to a future they'll never have.

The most important of these decisions is the decision to repent and attempt a deathbed conversion. Even if you judge there to be a tiny chance that anyone's actions before the asteroid hits will have any effect on their final salvation, there is a small chance it might, and, if it does, the consequences for that person are either infinitely bad or infinitely good. Given this, you ought to give people the information that will potentially spur them on to pursue God and avoid damnation.

There is an argument to this effect even if you think Pascal's Wager is bad argument: given that many others will disagree with you, and find Pascal's reasoning kosher, you should respect their religious autonomy by telling them what they'd want to know. Given how fundamental respecting religious commitments is to respecting each other's dignity of conscience, other people ought to be the ones to decide whether to form religious commitments before they die.

(You might object that it's false that "many" will find Pascal's reasoning kosher, since few people know about Pascal's Wager. However, while this is so in the sense that few people know about the philosophical argument, many if not most religious people in the real world have arrived at something like the Wager independently--something very much like Pascal's Wager ("If I don't, big loss, if I do, what's the harm?") motivates many real-world religious commitments.)

This objection appeals both to utility maximization and respecting core conscientious decisions, so it can appeal to both consequentialists and deontologists.

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What an interesting (and terrifying) thought experiment! I love the comments debating the "right" thing to do. Great share!

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