Logic Puzzles

June 7, 2013


1. The Missing PieceBelow the four parts have been reorganized. The four partitions are exactly the same in both arrangements. Why is there a hole?
Where does this hole come from?
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2. Four GallonsYou have a three gallon and a five gallon measuring device. You wish to measure out four gallons.
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3. The IslandersThere are two beautiful yet remote islands in the south pacific. The Islanders born on one island always tell the truth, and the Islanders from the other island always lie.
You are on one of the islands, and meet three Islanders. You ask the first which island they are from in the most appropriate Polynesian tongue, and he indicates that the other two Islanders are from the same Island. You ask the second Islander the same question, and he also indicates that the other two Islanders are from the same island.
Can you guess what the third Islander will answer to the same question?
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4. Five GallonsYou are mixing cement and the recipe calls for five gallons of water. You have a garden hose giving you all the water you need. The problem is that you only have a four gallon bucket and a seven gallon bucket and nether has graduation marks. Find a method to measure five gallons.
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5. Two StringsYou have two strings whose only known property is that when you light one end of either string it takes exactly one hour to burn. The rate at which the strings will burn is completely random and each string is different.
How do you measure 45 minutes?
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6. The CubesA corporate businessman has two cubes on his office desk. Every day he arranges both cubes so that the front faces show the current day of the month.
What numbers are on the faces of the cubes to allow this?
Note: You can’t represent the day “7” with a single cube with a side that says 7 on it. You have to use both cubes all the time. So the 7th day would be “07”.
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7. The Pot of BeansA pot contains 75 white beans and 150 black ones. Next to the pot is a large pile of black beans.
A somewhat demented cook removes the beans from the pot, one at a time, according to the following strange rule: He removes two beans from the pot at random. If at least one of the beans is black, he places it on the bean-pile and drops the other bean, no matter what color, back in the pot. If both beans are white, on the other hand, he discards both of them and removes one black bean from the pile and drops it in the pot.
At each turn of this procedure, the pot has one less bean in it. Eventually, just one bean is left in the pot. What color is it?
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8. The PigeonTwo friends decide to get together; so they start riding bikes towards each other. They plan to meet halfway. Each is riding at 6 MPH. They live 36 miles apart. One of them has a pet carrier pigeon and it starts flying the instant the friends start traveling. The pigeon flies back and forth at 18 MPH between the 2 friends until the friends meet.
How many miles does the pigeon travel?
Guess:  Guess | Show Hint Show Solution

9. The SocksThere is a lightbulb (incandescent, it’s currently off) in an upstairs room. You are downstairs, standing next to a panel of three light switches (all of them in the off position). One of them controls the lightbulb. The other two don’t do anything. You must figure out which switch controls the bulb, with some restrictions.
1) You can do whatever you want to the lightswitches, as long as it’s either turning them on or turning them off.
2) After fiddling with the lightswitches, you can go upstairs and check the bulb.
3) You cannot see the bulb nor any light shining from it from where you’re initially standing.
4) You cannot make multiple trips up and down the stairs.
5) The lamp is in the ceiling and you don’t have a ladder.
6) You are a mutant with 15-foot-long arms, so #5 is moot.
So, you fiddle with the switches, you walk upstairs and check the bulb, and then you immediately decide which switch controls the bulb.
How do you do it?
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1. The CamelsFour tasmanian camels traveling on a very narrow ledge encounter four tasmanian camels coming the other way.
As everyone knows, tasmanian camels never go backwards, especially when on a precarious ledge. The camels will climb over each other, but only if there is a camel sized space on the other side.
The camels didn’t see each other until there was only exactly one camel’s width between the two groups.
How can all camels pass, allowing both groups to go on their way, without any camel reversing?Show Hint Show Solution

2. The WaiterThree men in a cafe order a meal the total cost of which is $15. They each contribute $5. The waiter takes the money to the chef who recognizes the three as friends and asks the waiter to return $5 to the men.
The waiter is not only poor at mathematics but dishonest and instead of going to the trouble of splitting the $5 between the three he simply gives them $1 each and pockets the remaining $2 for himself.
Now, each of the men effectively paid $4, the total paid is therefore $12. Add the $2 in the waiters pocket and this comes to $14…..where has the other $1 gone from the original $15?
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3. The Boxes

There are three boxes. One is labeled “APPLES” another is labeled “ORANGES”. The last one is labeled “APPLES AND ORANGES”. You know that each is labeled incorrectly. You may ask me to pick one fruit from one box which you choose.

How can you label the boxes correctly?
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4. The CannibalsThree cannibals and three anthropologists have to cross a river.
The boat they have is only big enough for two people. The cannibals will do as requested, even if they are on the other side of the river, with one exception. If at any point in time there are more cannibals on one side of the river than anthropologists, the cannibals will eat them.
What plan can the anthropologists use for crossing the river so they don’t get eaten?
Note: One anthropologist can not control two cannibals on land, nor can one anthropologist on land control two cannibals on the boat if they are all on the same side of the river. This means an anthropologist will not survive being rowed across the river by a cannibal if there is one cannibal on the other side.
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5. The FatherA mother is 21 years older than her child. In exactly 6 years from now, the mother will be exactly 5 times as old as the child.
Where’s the father?
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6. The Double Jeopardy DoorsYou are trapped in a room with two doors. One leads to certain death and the other leads to freedom. You don’t know which is which.
There are two robots guarding the doors. They will let you choose one door but upon doing so you must go through it.
You can, however, ask one robot one question. The problem is one robot always tells the truth ,the other always lies and you don’t know which is which.
What is the question you ask?
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7. The FrogA frog is at the bottom of a 30 meter well. Each day he summons enough energy for one 3 meter leap up the well. Exhausted, he then hangs there for the rest of the day. At night, while he is asleep, he slips 2 meters backwards. How many days does it take him to escape from the well?
Note: Assume after the first leap that his hind legs are exactly three meters up the well. His hind legs must clear the well for him to escape.
Guess:  Guess | Show Hint Show Solution

8. The BobberYou can paddle your canoe seven miles per hour through any placid lake. The stream flows at three miles per hour. The moment you start to paddle up stream a fisherman looses one of his bobbers in the water fourteen miles up stream of you.
How many hours does it take for you and the bobber to meet?
Guess:  Guess | Show Hint Show Solution

9. The SocksCathy has twelve black socks and twelve white socks in her drawer.
In complete darkness, and without looking, how many socks must she take from the drawer in order to be sure to get a pair that match?
Guess:  Guess | Show Solution

10. There is something about MaryMary’s mum has four children.
The first child is called April.
The second May.
The third June.
What is the name of the fourth child?
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11. Petals around the roseThe name of the game is Petals Around the Rose, and that name is significant. Newcomers to the game can be told that much. They can also be told that every answer is zero or an even number. They can also be told the answer for every throw of the dice that are used in the game. And that’s all the information they get.
The person who has the dice and knows the game, rolls five dice and remarks almost instantly on the answer. For example: in Roll #1 the answer is two.
Roll #1. 4 1 6 3 6
“The answer is what?” says the new player.
“On that roll?”
“Would it still be two if I moved the dice without turning any of them over, just rearranging the pattern?”
“I can tell you only three things: the name of the game, the fact that the answer is always even, and the answer for any particular throw. In this case the answer is two.”
“So that’s how it is. What am I supposed to do?”
“You’re supposed to tell me the answer before I tell you. I’ll give you all the time you want, but don’t tell me your theory, just the answer. If you figure it out, you don’t want to give the idea away to these other jokers around you. Make them work for the answers, too. If you get the answer right on six successive rolls, I’ll take that as prima facie evidence that you understand the game.”
“OK, roll again.”
Roll #2. 5 6 5 4 4
“I give up. What’s the answer?”
“The answer is eight.”
“Roll again.”
Roll #3. 3 5 5 5 6
The answer is fourteen.
Roll #4. 2 6 2 1 4
The answer is zero.
Roll #5. 4 3 2 1 3
The answer is four.
Roll #6. 6 5 6 2 2
The answer is…  Guess |
An integral part of the puzzle is that those who have solved it are urged to keep the solution a secret, so there is no solution posted here. It is not a hard puzzle to figure out however.
A claim that often accompanies these instructions is that the smarter an individual, the greater amount of difficulty the individual will have in solving it. If such a statement is true, it may be attributed to the fact that “smarter” people tend to be more knowledgeable in a wide range of information which they may unnecessarily attempt to draw upon to solve the puzzle.

STEPHEN EDELSTEIN TOULMIN 1922-1909 a philosophical giant

obit from stephen grimes of the ny times

From http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/education/11toulmin.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

reprinted in global debate blog at


Toulmin was a great yet unknown and unheralded philosopher and writer of great academic and widespread influence in many circles.

He was an epistemologist and also influenced the modern revival of practical argumentation theory, also known as the new rhetoric, with a small book he published in 1958 known as “the uses of argument”, which is still a classic today.

Toulmin’s argumentation theories, which were refined over the course of many  more articles and books, resulted in what was known as a Toulmin argument, to quot from the wikipedia article on Toulmin;

Toulmin believed that a good argument can succeed in providing good justification for a claim that will stand up to criticism and earn a favourable verdict. In The Uses of Argument (1958), Toulmin proposed a layout containing six interrelated components for analyzing arguments:

A conclusion whose merit must be established. For example, if a person tries to convince a listener that he is a British citizen, the claim would be “I am a British citizen.” (1)
Evidence (Data)
A fact one appeals to as a foundation for the claim. For example, the person introduced in 1 can support his claim with the supporting data “I was born in Bermuda.” (2)
A statement authorizing movement from the data to the claim. In order to move from the data established in 2, “I was born in Bermuda,” to the claim in 1, “I am a British citizen,” the person must supply a warrant to bridge the gap between 1 and 2 with the statement “A man born in Bermuda will legally be a British citizen.” (3)
Credentials designed to certify the statement expressed in the warrant; backing must be introduced when the warrant itself is not convincing enough to the readers or the listeners. For example, if the listener does not deem the warrant in 3 as credible, the speaker will supply the legal provisions as backing statement to show that it is true that “A man born in Bermuda will legally be a British citizen.”
Statements recognizing the restrictions which may legitimately be applied to the claim. The rebuttal is exemplified as follows: “A man born in Bermuda will legally be a British citizen, unless he has betrayed Britain and has become a spy of another country.”
Words or phrases expressing the speaker’s degree of force or certainty concerning the claim. Such words or phrases include “probably,” “possible,” “impossible,” “certainly,” “presumably,” “as far as the evidence goes,” and “necessarily.” The claim “I am definitely a British citizen” has a greater degree of force than the claim “I am a British citizen, presumably.”

The first three elements, “claim,” “data,” and “warrant,” are considered as the essential components of practical arguments, while the second triad, “qualifier,” “backing,” and “rebuttal,” may not be needed in some arguments.

When Toulmin first proposed it, this layout of argumentation was based on legal arguments and intended to be used to analyze the rationality of arguments typically found in the courtroom. Toulmin did not realize that this layout could be applicable to the field of rhetoric and communication until his works were introduced to rhetoricians by Wayne Brockriede and Douglas Ehninger. Only after Toulmin published Introduction to Reasoning (1979) were the rhetorical applications of this layout mentioned in his works.

Toulmin’s argument model has inspired research on, for example, argument maps and associated software.


Toulmin arguments are therefore routinely used in modern legal argumentation, in law schools, in oratory and rhetoric, and have formed the foundation of modern college and high school debating, especially lincoln-douglas debating which has become the preferred form of debate in recent years.

Toulmin arguments are used in many other ways and in many other contexts.  His work will be studied and debated for many years to come.  His work is illuminating and inspires one to further considerations of the subject matter.  Finally, Toulmin had a fond regard for the ancient greeks and their original traditions of epistemology, rhetoric and oratory, and their practical uses of same vs. their scientific uses of same.  He was always careful to draw the distinction between empirical use of language and persuasive use of language, and in this, he succeeded admirably.  By doing so, he revived the modern notion of argument and managed to win a small victory over the british analytic school which denied even the possibility of metaphysics in a modern world.

–art kyriazis, december 22, 2009

Last night we witnessed the triumph of existentialism, or should I say, Instantiation, in modern baseball, because the alleged two run home run hit by Alex Rodriguez NEVER ACTUALLY OCCURRED.

To understand this, first we must review the Home Run Rule in modern baseball, which was first defined in 1885, and was subsequently amended in 1892, 1914, 1920, 1926, 1931, 1950 and 1955.

The key concept of the home run rule is most plainly expressed in the 1892 rule which has not been changed very much since 1892:


The key concepts here are that

1) the ball has to be fair; and
2) the ball has to go “over the fence.”

The 1892 rule adds that “A distinctive line is to be marked on the fence showing the required point.” Meaning, if the ball goes over the fence above the line, it goes “over the fence.”

However, and this is the key point, the ball still has to go OVER the fence, not just ABOVE the line.

Last nite’s alleged home run by Alex Rodriquez, as a careful examination of the Rules of Baseball in this blog will demonstrate, was not a home run, but a Ground Rule Double.

It was a Ground Rule Double, because the ball never went OVER the Fence, as require plainly by the Rules of Baseball, but merely hit an object, which was in the field of play, above the line, but still in the field of play.

As to whether the ball would have, could have, or should have gone over the fence, but for the object, which was a TV camera, that is an interesting philosophical debate (which is the same as conceiving of unicorns, trolls, a planet without war and the tooth fairy), but the result is still the same: the home run remains an abstraction, something INSTANTIATED and given EXISTENCE only in the collective minds of the umpires.

You see the replay plainly on Fox TV. At no time did the ball go OVER the Fence. Moreover, the camera was jutting a good five to ten feet into the field. Even if the camera wasn’t there, the downward arc of the ball meant that the ball might have gone over the fence, or it might have continued its downward slope and hit the fence at a point BELOW the line of the fence.

Now, as a careful examination of the rules will show, similar disputes such as balls getting caught in the wiring of the ivy fences at Wrigley have always been rules as ground rule doubles. At no time have such balls ever been rules home runs, not in World Series and never on instant replay, because there has never been instant replay in the World Series or at any time in baseball.

I’m certainly pleased to see that baseball, not content with attempting to stop the Phillies from winning the World Series last year by calling a rain delay halt for the first time in World Series History when Cole Hamels was pitching a brilliant game in game five, this year, for the first time in World Series history called a fake home rum and foiled Cole Hamels again from winning.

Up to the point of the fake homer call, Hamels was pitching a no-hitter. It was obvious that Hamels was furious with the call. And rightly so. The call was utter and total BS, and proves that Bud Selig and Organized Baseball are determined to see that the Yankees win the World Series at all costs. The Umpiring crew rules so quickly that they must have been told by Selig how to rule. They didn’t have time to deliberate.

This is reminiscent of 1950, when the Yankees used their connections with the US Government to have Curt Simmons, a blazing lefthander with Sandy Koufax stuff, a twenty game winner, on the Phillies, get his draft notice in mid-September 1950, two weeks before the World Series was coming up with the Yanks. At the time, the Phils had Robin Roberts, now in the Hall of Fame, and Curt Simmons, a blazing lefthander, on their staff. The two pitchers had combined for more than fifty wins. The two pitchers could each have won two games in the series and blown out the Yanks, much like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson won the 2001 Series for Arizona back a few years. But with Curt Simmons in the Army, the Phillies barely won the Pennant, and were eradicated by the Yanks in four games.

The Yankees always need to cheat to win.

Ok, so here are the Home Run Rules:

1885 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence at a distance less than 210 feet from home base shall entitle the batsmen to two bases. A distinctive line shall be marked on the fence at this point.

My comment: At this point, a ball “over the fence” is not a homer at all, it’s a ground rule double. Weird.

1892 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence shall entitle the batter to a home run; except that should it go over the fence at a distance less than 235 feeet from home base, the batter is entitled to only two bases. A distinctive line is to be marked on the fence showing the required point.

My comment: This is essentially the modern rule. The ball has to go “over” the “fence” to be a home run. And it has to go “over” the “distinctive line” of the “fence”. Not above, but over.

I think we all understand the difference between going near, above and around a line painted on a fence, and going over a fence. It’s the difference between a hurdler stumbling on the hurdle, and a hurdler clearing the hurdle entirely.

Rodriquez’ ball last nite, in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, is not a home run under the Home Run Rule. It did not go “over the fence” or over the “distinctive line”, because in three dimensional space, it hit the camera before it crossed the plane of the line, and was knocked back into the field. Therefore, it never went over the line, never went over the wall, and never went over the fence.

Consequently, it was not a home run under the 1892 rule.

Are there any changes in the rules SINCE 1892 that could make it a home run? The answer is no, but let’s go through them all and see.

Note that this is not a “judgment call” by the umpires. The ball has to go “over the fence” and be a “fair ball” to be a home run. End of story. An umpire or group of umpires cannot make a ball that might have been or should have been a home run except that it hit something, into a home run by philosophical instantiation, or abstractive analysis.

In short, there are no unicorns, trolls or other imaginary beings just because we think there are; and there are no imaginary home runs. C.f. Occam’s razor—we don’t create a multiplicity of abstract universal beings just because we name them, think of them or create them in our minds. If we create now a class of abstract home runs, home runs that might have been, should have been and so forth, we now introduce into baseball a series of abstract balls, strikes, stolen bases, catches, hits and so forth and soon there will be entire parallel universes of baseball realities creeping into games, abstract realities which have nothing to do with what’s going on down at the field level, or, more pertinently, in the empirical world or in the rulebook. Everything will come down to what the umpires say and we’ll have a courtroom, not a ballgame.

1914 – Should an errant thrown ball remain in the meshes of a wire screen protecting the spectators, the runner or runners shall be entitled to two bases. The umpire in awarding such bases shall be governed by the position of the runner or runners at the time the throw is made.

My comment – this is the first indication that hitting a camera should be a ground rule double. Here the rule says if an errant thrown ball gets caught in wire screen mesh, the runner gets two bases and two bases only. It doesn’t matter if the ball is over the fence in fair ground, it’s still only two bases.

1920 – Home Run/Game-Ending – If a batsman, in the last half of the final inning of any game, hits a home run over the fence or into a stand, all runners on the bases at the time, as well as the batsman, shall be entitled to score, and in such event all bases must be touched in order, and the final score of the game shall be the total number of runs made.

My comment – this is the famous “walk off homer” rule change. Prior to 1920, if someone hit a walk off homer with one, two or three men on that won the game, the only runs that counted were the ones that won the game, e.g. if the score were 9-8 the road team, and you hit a grand slam, you got two runs, the score ended 10-9 home team, and you were credited with either a single or a double, usually a single. Not a grand slam. But under the walk-off rule, the score ended 12-9, the batter got credit for a homer, a grand slam and 4 RBI.

Note again that the rule says “over the fence” and “into the stand”. Rodriquez’ alleged homer last night meets neither of these key tests.

1926 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence or into a stand shall entitle the batsman to a home run, unless it should pass out of the ground or into a stand at a distance less than 250 feet from the home base, in which case the batsman shall be entitled to two bases only. In either event the batsman must touch the bases in regular order. The point at which a fence or stand is less than 250 feet from the home base shall be plainly indicated by a white or black sign or mark for the umpire’s guidance.

My comment – again, the rule says “over the fence” or “into a stand” in order for a ball to be a home run. This changes the 1892 rule by making the minimum fence distance 250 feet for a home run instead of 235 feet in order not to have “cheap” home runs, although even 250 feet would be a pretty short distance. Of course, Yankee Stadium had a 297 foot right field porch for years for their left handed sluggers, another example of the Yankees “cheating”, and then they would have an all-lefthanded staff to keep the other team from stacking up lefties against them, c.f. Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Andy Pettite, Ron Guidry and so forth. This unfair advantage has been wiped out with the new Yankee Stadium, although allegedly there remains a slightly easier job of hitting to right field.

1931 – Batter/Awarded Bases – A fair hit ball that bounds into a stand or over a fence shall be a two-base hit. Note: There is no reference to distance in this rule and any fair hit ball bounding over the fence or into the stand is a two-base hit.

My comment: This is the modern ground-rule double rule. It hasn’t changed at all. Most importantly, READ what it says. “A FAIR HIT BALL THAT BOUNDS INTO A STAND OR OVER A FENCE SHALL BE A TWO-BASE HIT.” That means that if the ball bounces off a camera and then over the fence, it’s a two base hit. If the ball bounces off a fan and over the fence, it’s a two base hit. If it bounces off the top of the Astrodome, and back into the field of play, as happened to Mike Schmidt in 1974, it’s a two base hit; but if it went off the top of the Astrodome and then over the fence, it would be a ground rule double according to the rule.

According to the plain language of the ground rule double rule of 1931, the ball A Rod hit last nite in game 3 of the World Series was a double. Not subject to review, not subject to judgment call. A ground rule double. It went off a camera and bounded over the fence and then back into the field. It was in play. It’s a ground rule double in that case.

In 1950 the rulebook was entirely recodified and rewritten, refined and clarified:

1950: Batter/Awarded Bases: Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability of being put out, advance to home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes over the field fence in flight and he touch [sic] all bases legally; of if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have cleared the field fence in flight, is deflected by the act of a defensive player in throwing his glove, cap or any article of his apparel, the runner shall be awarded a home run.

My comment – to be a home run, the ball must go over the fence “in flight”. The only case where an umpire may exercise judgment and rule on whether a ball “would have cleared the field fence in flight” is solely and exclusively the case of when the ball is “deflected by the act of a defensive player in throwing his glove, cap or any article of his apparel”. This is the one and only situation where an umpire may exercise abstract judgment and award a hypothetical or abstract home run under the rules of baseball; where a fielder attempts to block the ball by throwing his glove, cap or article of his clothing at the ball.

This was not the case with A Rod’s home run last night. Jayson Werth did not throw his cap, his glove or any article of his clothing at the ball last night. Consequently, the ball would have had to clear the fence “in flight” to be a home run. Since the ball never cleared the fence “in flight”, it was not a home run under the 1950 rule, as amended.

More 1950 changes:

The batter becomes a baserunner when a fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands or passes through or under a fence or through or under shrubbery or vines on the field, in which case the batter and the baserunners shall be entitled to advance two bases.

The batter becomes a baserunner when any fair ball which, either before or striking the ground, passes through or under a fence or through or under a scoreboard or through or any opening in the fence or scoreboard or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the baserunners shall be entitled to two bases.
The batter becomes a baserunner when any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands or over or under a fence on fair or foul ground, in which case the batter and all baserunners shall be entitled to advance two bases.

The batter becomes a baserunner when any fair fly ball is defelected by the fielder into the stands or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run.

My comment – the first three rules make clear that deflections by the fielder and interference with the ball by objects on the field, such as vines, fences and shrubbery, are always ground rule doubles. The only case where a ball is NOT a ground rule double is when there is a deflection by the fielder, and for this to be a home run, there are four requirements;
1) a fair fly ball in fair territory;
2) deflected by a fielder;
3) into the stands; or
4) over the fence.

Note that even if argued analogically to last nites hit by A Rod, the 1950 rule does him no good. First, the camera deflected the ball back into the field. Second, the deflection was by a camera, not by a fielder. Third, the deflection was not “into the stands.” Fourth, the deflection was not “over the fence.”

Consequently, it’s really, really, really crystal clear that what we have is a ground rule double, under the remaining provisions of the 1950 and 1932 ground rule double rules. A Rod and the Yankees were only entitled to a ground rule double last nite in game 3 of the World Series.

1955 Rule Change

The 1955 rule change is very, very minor, it just provides that if a hitter hits a homer and has an accident while running the bases and time is called, he can have a runner come in and pinch run for him and run out the homer run and score it. It has no effect whatsoever on the discussion at hand.

Ok, through 1995, that’s all the rule changes I have from the source J. Thorn, P. Palmer, M. Gershman, D. Pietruskza, Total Baseball V: The Official Encyclopaedia of Major League Baseball (Viking NY 1997), c.f. D. Bingham & T. Heitz, “Rules and Scoring,” at pp. 2376-2432.

Now let’s hit the Net.

The rules as they exist through 1955 continue to exist and are codified in Official Rules of Baseball at Rule 6.09, exactly as they were enacted in 1950, see for yourself:

6.09 The batter becomes a runner when—
(a) He hits a fair ball;
(b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out;
Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
(c) A fair ball, after having passed a fielder other than the pitcher, or after having been touched by a fielder, including the pitcher, shall touch an umpire or runner on fair territory;
(d) A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run when he shall have touched all bases legally. A fair fly ball that passes out of the playing field at a point less than 250 feet from home base shall entitle the batter to advance to second base only;
(e) A fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands, or passes through, over or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(f) Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases;
(g) Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(h) Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run. However, should such a fair fly be deflected at a point less than 250 feet from home plate, the batter shall be entitled to two bases only.


the deflection by the fielder rule is also exactly the same as adopted in 1950 and has not been changed, and is codified in Rule 7.05(a);

7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;


See? It’s exactly the same. The only way an upire can judge if the fair ball would have left the stadium and gone out of the playing field in flight, is if it was deflected by the act of a fielder under Rule 7.05(a).

The umpire can’t make a judgment call under any other of the rules of baseball.

All the rules of baseball, incidentally, are on line and available for you all to read for yourselves at;


see also these websites:




There IS however, a rule which pertains to interference by media, and that is rule 3.15, which I hereby quote now:

3.15 No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.


NOTE WHAT RULE 3.15 SAYS ABOUT INTERFERENCE WITH A BALL BY NEWSPHOTOGRAPHERS WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE ON THE FIELD OF PLAY: In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play.

Since A-Rod’s ball was UNINTENTIONALLY INTERFERED WITH BY A PRESS CAMERA, RULE 3.15 COMES INTO PLAY EXPRESSLY AND THE BALL IS IN PLAY. It’s not a case of fan interference where the umpires are allowed to make a judgment call to nullify the fan interference and create a home run abstractly.

To the contrary, the rule is clear and express- “the ball is in play” says the rule. Since the ball did not go over the fence or into the stands or over the fence in flight, but back to the field, and since Werth relayed it back, the Yankees runners were stuck at 2d and 3d.

There was no interference, and if there were a ground rule here, it was at best a ground rule double. See discussion above, supra.


The Umps and all of major league baseball got the rules wrong last night.

The ball was alive and in play last night and/or was a ground rule double, under the ground rule double rules and also under official Rule 3.15.

The Umps had no interference discretion under rules 3.15 or 3.16 because NO FAN touched the ball—instead, an authorized member of the press touched the ball.

The camera was an authorized photographer.

Consequently, the ball was in play.

Note the difference if a spectator had touched the ball:

3.16 When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.
APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

Rule 3.16 Comment: There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpire’s judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.
No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.
Example: Runner on third base, one out and a batter hits a fly ball deep to the outfield (fair or foul). Spectator clearly interferes with the outfielder attempting to catch the fly ball. Umpire calls the batter out for spectator interference. Ball is dead at the time of the call. Umpire decides that because of the distance the ball was hit, the runner on third base would have scored after the catch if the fielder had caught the ball which was interfered with, therefore, the runner is permitted to score. This might not be the case if such fly ball was interfered with a short distance from home plate.


The ground rules for ground rule doubles are exactly the same as the 1950 and 1932 rules discussed above, and are codified at the official rules of baseball 7.05;

7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;
(b) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a fair ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril;
(c) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a fair ball. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril.
(d) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play;
(e) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a thrown ball. The ball is in play;
Rule 7.05(b) through 7.05(e) Comment: In applying (b-c-d-e) the umpire must rule that the thrown glove or detached cap or mask has touched the ball. There is no penalty if the ball is not touched.
Under (c-e) this penalty shall not be invoked against a fielder whose glove is carried off his hand by the force of a batted or thrown ball, or when his glove flies off his hand as he makes an obvious effort to make a legitimate catch.

(f) Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines;
(g) Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made;
APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter-runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made.
Rule 7.05(g) Comment: In certain circumstances it is impossible to award a runner two bases. Example: Runner on first. Batter hits fly to short right. Runner holds up between first and second and batter comes around first and pulls up behind him. Ball falls safely. Outfielder, in throwing to first, throws ball into stand.
APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base.
The term “when the wild throw was made” means when the throw actually left the player’s hand and not when the thrown ball hit the ground, passes a receiving fielder or goes out of play into the stands.
The position of the batter-runner at the time the wild throw left the thrower’s hand is the key in deciding the award of bases. If the batter-runner has not reached first base, the award is two bases at the time the pitch was made for all runners. The decision as to whether the batter-runner has reached first base before the throw is a judgment call.
If an unusual play arises where a first throw by an infielder goes into stands or dugout but the batter did not become a runner (such as catcher throwing ball into stands in attempt to get runner from third trying to score on passed ball or wild pitch) award of two bases shall be from the position of the runners at the time of the throw. (For the purpose of Rule 7.05 (g) a catcher is considered an infielder.)
PLAY. Runner on first base, batter hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to second base too late to get runner at second, and second baseman throws toward first base after batter has crossed first base. Ruling—Runner at second scores. (On this play, only if batter-runner is past first base when throw is made is he awarded third base.)
(h) One base, if a ball, pitched to the batter, or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher’s plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or a bench, or over or through a field fence or backstop. The ball is dead;

APPROVED RULING: When a wild pitch or passed ball goes through or by the catcher, or deflects off the catcher, and goes directly into the dugout, stands, above the break, or any area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be one base. One base shall also be awarded if the pitcher while in contact with the rubber, throws to a base, and the throw goes directly into the stands or into any area where the ball is dead.
If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw.
(i) One base, if the batter becomes a runner on Ball Four or Strike Three, when the pitch passes the catcher and lodges in the umpire’s mask or paraphernalia.
If the batter becomes a runner on a wild pitch which entitles the runners to advance one base, the batter-runner shall be entitled to first base only.

Rule 7.05(i) Comment: The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases. For example: batter hits a ground ball which an infielder throws into the stands but the batter-runner missed first base. He may be called out on appeal for missing first base after the ball is put in play even though he was “awarded” second base.
If a runner is forced to return to a base after a catch, he must retouch his original base even though, because of some ground rule or other rule, he is awarded additional bases. He may retouch while the ball is dead and the award is then made from his original base.
(j) One base, if a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched


as you can plainly see, nothing has changed in the ground rules at all.

Consequently, A-Rod’s hit was either a ground rule double under rule 7.05, or it was a ball in play since it hit a media camera which was authorized to be in the field of play under rule 3.15. What it was not was a home run under either rule 6.09(d) or rule 7.05(a) or any other rule of baseball.

I’ve looked exhaustively and so have my sabrmetric friends, and there isn’t a rule in the book supporting what happened last night.

What happened also violates the laws of logic and violates the laws of physics. It violates the laws of logic, because the home run was created by an act of particular instantiation—abstract thought created a thing from a concept—what we in philosophy call a “unicorn”—which would make my old professor of logic at Harvard turn over twice—and violates Occam’s razor—that you don’t create needless entities through nominalism.

Instead, empiricism and realism dictate that a home run is a home run when we SEE and WITNESS that the ball goes over the fence—not that we imagine or suppose that it MIGHT have gone over the fence.

The problem with the umpires’ supposition last night is that it is what we call in philosophy a “modal” proposition, an “if….then” statement, that is conditional.

“If the camera were not there, then the ball would have flown over the fence.”

This can readily be recognized as a categorical statement of conditional form—namely, if there were no camera “x”, the trajectory of flight of the ball would have been different in form “y”.

The problem, as anyone knows, is that without an actual observation of same, there are a plethora of possible universes of possible “y’s”.

All we know is that the ball may or might have gone over the wall—or it may or might have bounced below the line and back onto the field. All we have is a possibility that it might have gone over the wall.

All conditionals are like this.

Moreover, accepting conditionals as true introduces a host of problems.

The medieval philosophers didn’t like conditionals, and neither should we.

It’s true that rule 9.03c states that

Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules.


however, in this case, the A-Rod double IS covered specifically by the baseball rules. There is no room for discretion or authority to rule.

Here’s what actually occurred before game 3 of the World Series according to the umpiring crew:

Indeed, umpire crew chief Gerry Davis said that his crew explored every inch of Citizens Bank Park prior to Game 3, spending time reviewing areas unique to the park. The right-field camera was one of the aspects they discussed.
“We tour the field during the series whenever we go to a new ballpark, and discuss specific ground rules and potential trouble areas just like that,” Davis said. “Because we cannot control what the cameraman does with the camera, one of the specific ground rules is when the ball hits the camera, [it’s a] home run.”

So, the umpiring crew themselves MADE UP THEIR OWN GROUND RULE that the camera, if it was hit, would be a home run.

That would be fine, except that it’s in direct violation of Baseball Rule 3.15, as cited above, supra, that a media photographic camera, if a ball strikes it, the ball is in play and NOT a home run.

The Umpires don’t have discretion to make a ground rule about that.

The statement made by Umpire Davis is totally and completely WRONG. The rules cover the situation of when a ball strikes a camera held by a camera man.

Let’s see the rule again:

3.15 No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.


Ok, then, cameramen, news photographers who unintentionally interfere with the ball, and the interference is unintentionall, the “ball is alive and in play.”

It’s not up to Davis and his crew to make up a ground rule there. It’s up to Davis and his crew to follow Rule 3.15. Rule 3.15 trumps Article 9 and the umpire discretion rules.

Now let’s discuss the instant replay rule.

Here’s the story on the instant replay rule adopted in September of 2008:

5. Instant replay
Main article: Instant replay
In November 2007, the general managers of Major League Baseball voted in favor of implementing instant replay reviews on boundary home run calls. [19] The proposal limited the use of instant replay to determining whether a boundary home run call is:
• A fair (home run) or foul ball
• A live ball (ball hit fence and rebounded onto the field), ground rule double (ball hit fence before leaving the field), or home run (ball hit some object beyond the fence while in flight)
• Spectator interference or home run (spectator touched ball after it broke the plane of the fence).
On August 28, 2008, instant replay review became available in MLB for reviewing calls in accordance with the above proposal. It was first utilized on September 3, 2008 in a game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. [20] Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees hit what appeared to be a home run, but the ball hit a catwalk behind the foul pole. It was at first called a home run, until Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon argued the call, and the umpires decided to review the play. After 2 minutes and 15 seconds, the umpires came back and ruled it a home run.
About two weeks later, on September 19, also at Tropicana Field, a boundary call was overturned for the first time. In this case, Carlos Peña of the Rays was given a ground rule double in a game against the Minnesota Twins after an umpire believed a fan reached into the field of play to catch a fly ball in right field. The umpires reviewed the play, determined the fan did not reach over the fence, and reversed the call, awarding Peña a home run.
Aside from the two aforementioned reviews at Tampa Bay, replay was used four more times in the 2008 MLB regular season: twice at Houston, once at Seattle, and once at San Francisco. The San Francisco incident is perhaps the most unusual. Bengie Molina, the Giants’ Catcher, hit what was first called a double. Molina then was replaced in the game by a pinch-runner before the umpires re-evaluated the call and ruled it a home run. In this instance though, Molina was not allowed to return to the game to complete the run, as he had already been replaced. Molina was credited with the home run, and two RBIs, but not for the run scored which went to the pinch-runner instead.
On October 31, 2009, in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Alex Rodriguez hit a long fly ball that appeared to hit a camera protruding over the wall and into the field of play in deep left field. The ball ricocheted off the camera and re-entered the field, initially ruled a double. However, after the umpires consulted with each other after watching the instant replay, the hit was ruled a home run, marking the first time an instant replay home run was hit in a playoff game. [21]


Citing to

• ESPN – GMs vote 25-5 to use replay to aid home run decisions – MLB

Now, let’s parse all this.

What instant replay boils down to is this.

A lawyer sits in Bud Selig’s offices in NYC and HE reviews the play and decides how it should be called.

The head of the umpiring crew calls NYC and asks the lawyer how the play should be ruled.

Then they decide.

Uh, what’s wrong with this picture if the NEW YORK YANKEES are one of the teams in the playoffs?

Let’s see, a NEW YORK LAWYER making the call? Against a PHILLY team?

Oh right, that would be really fair, impartial and just.

Incidentally, let’s review the rule again:

The proposal limited the use of instant replay to determining whether a boundary home run call is:
• A fair (home run) or foul ball
• A live ball (ball hit fence and rebounded onto the field), ground rule double (ball hit fence before leaving the field), or home run (ball hit some object beyond the fence while in flight)
• Spectator interference or home run (spectator touched ball after it broke the plane of the fence).
Id, supra.

Note that the ball has to hit an object BEYOND the fence while in flight.

Not in front of the fence, but BEYOND the fence.

This is completely consistent with Rules 6.09 and 7.05(a) which define a home run as one hit “over the fence in flight”.

The camera, in this case, was jutting out over the fence by a good five to ten feet.

So it was not beyond the fence, but on the field of play.

Second, because it was on the field of play, it was therefore a photographic interference under Rule 3.15, and should have been considered an unintentional interference, and a live ball in play under Rule 3.15.

Third, if not a live ball in play, then the ground rule double rule of 7.05 (b) et seq. comes into play.

What’s wrong with this picture?


Let’s review the criteria for instant replay;

1) is it fair or foul? Well, it was a fair ball. No need for instant replay.
2) Is it a live ball that hit the fence and bounced back to the field? No. No need for instant replay.

Was it a live ball that hit some object beyond the fence while in flight?

No. It never went beyond the fence. So no instant replay was required.

Well, it hit the camera==part of which was behind the fence, but the part of the camera the ball hit was NOT beyond the fence.

This is not a semantic issue, but a real rules issue, because if you start saying that balls that don’t go over the fence in flight are home runs, just because the umpires make up ground rules before the game to make them eligible for instant review, doesn’t make it so.

I think the key here is to parse the fact that the umpiring crew made a mistake before the game establishing false ground rules, by making a camera that jutted INTO the field, a candidate for HOME RUN instant replay.

That wasn’t their call to make.

Under the instant replay rule, the camera has to be entirely beyond the fence for them to make that decision, end of story.

Remember, the rule is to decide the boundary issue of when a ball has hit an object BEYOND the fence–not an object within the ballfield.

The Umps exceeded their rulemaking authority. Also, see #3, below, because there’s actually a different rule that applies to cameras that are in the field of play and not beyond the field of play, in which case the ball is either a ground rule double or in play. In either case the result is the same; arod at 2d, texeira at 3d.

3) There was not spectator interference, but rather, photographer interference under rule 3.15, which made it a live ball under the rules, and on the field of play.

Consequently, there was no jurisdiction for an instant reply. Rather, the umpires AGGREGATED and SEIZED inappropriately the jurisdiction for home run instant replay because they forgot their own rule book and the rules of baseball.

They got the call all wrong.

It’s an insult to our collective intelligence and our common sense to say that a ball that fell short of the wall, and never went over the wall, is a “fair ball” that “went over the fence in flight” or that after instant replay, was shown to have struct an object “beyond the fence” in flight. None of these things occured on arod’s hit.

And messed up a 25 year old kids’ no hitter in the processs.

Did they purposefully do it?

Did the NY Offices of baseball reverse the call to obstruct the Phillies from repeating?

I don’t know—go ask the Atlanta Braves. No one in Bud Selig’s office was happy when they went up 2-0 on the Yankees in 1996 either.

The Commissioner’s office basically wants LA or NY to win the series because that’s good for TV ratings.

They like to ignore Philly and Atlanta even though we’re much more rabid about baseball than New Yorkers, most of whom are too poor to afford to go to a game, whereas in Philly or Atlanta, it’s mostly the middle class who attend.

And if we have to cheat and violate the rules to make the Yankees winners, what the hay?

Just remember Curt Simmons’ draft notice, and Bud Selig’s ridiculous rain delay call in last year’s Game Five in Philly.

Definitely be sure there’s bias against the Phillies in NYC.

And of course, let’s not forget they used a single New York Lawyer as the judging panel for instant replay of a World Series play involving….

The New York Yankees.

Like that’s really fair.

This is the Second World Series in a row where Bud Selig has personally messed around with our ace, Cole Hamels, in a World Series game.

First was Game Five in World Series 2008, in which Cole Hamels was shutting the door down on Tampa Bay. Selig allowed the game to proceed in the rain, then let Tampa Bay score a cheap run in rain soaked conditions against Hamels, a cheap run in conditions not fit to play in, and then Selig announced the game would be suspended—a first in Series history—which infuriated not only the Phillies, but Hamels, who had pitched well enough to win. Last year the story line was supposed to be tampa bay to win, cindarella, last place to world champions. New york didn’t want philly winning.

Conspiracy theorists, you are right if you think Selig hates Hamels.

And now this year, Selig sends Davis and an experienced umpiring crew out, and they set up illegal ground rules, and use the first chance they get, to award a two run instant replay home run—an existential, instantiated home run—an abstraction if you will, because nothing ever left the park or ever went over the fence in flight—for the sole purpose of screwing up Cole Hamels’ game in game 3, the pivotal game of the 2009 world series.

I need not point out how furious Hamels must have been with all this BS; for the second year in a row, he’s been messed with, not by the opposing lineup, but by lawyers and umpires and the commissioners’ office. They just won’t let him do his job.

I understand why he might have hung a few curves the next inning to Swisher and Damon.

What I don’t understand is why the Phillies don’t aggressively move

1) for Bud Selig’s immediate ouster as Commissioner of Baseball; and
2) an immediate amendment of the baseball instant replay rule requiring that the review of plays always be done in a neutral city by an impartial panel of three arbitrators, not lawyers, with one chosen by each team and the third chosen by the other two.
3) And the umpiring crew and ground rules be reviewed two weeks in advance of the World Series by the front office of each team, and by the teams attorneys, to be sure there are no conflicts with the Rules of Baseball.

Even my 80 year old mother in law, who just had eye surgery, who watched the game last night, and used to be a Brooklyn Dodger fan from Brooklyn, saw the play last night and she knew that the A-Rod hit wasn’t a home run.

“it didn’t go out of the park” she said. “how could it be a home run?”

Exactly. To be a home run, under rule 7.05(a), and in the common sense of every fan, a home run must go over the fence in flight.

And to be a home run for instant replay purposes, it has to go over the fence in flight and THEN hit some object.

Not hit some object which inteferes with the ball from going over the fence in flight. That’s a ground rule double or a ball live in play, as we have seen from our discussion, at length, of the rules.

The difference last night was two runs.

But the difference, from our perspective, is the lawlessness of the Bud Selig regime.

A regime which bars Pete Rose from the Hall of Fame, but tolerates steroid use by the likes of A-Rod and David Ortiz, and turns a blind eye to the income inequalities between teams like the Yankees and the Twins that keep baseball from truly being competitive.

A regime which makes arbitrary and capricious decisions each and every year about rain delays, rain suspensions, instant replay home runs in the World Series, and which plays games of law and fate which affect a man’s life and career in the case of Cole Hamels, who is a truly great pitcher along the lines of a Steve Carlton.

In fact, if you study Hamels stats, you will see that his 2009 is to his 2008, as Carlton’s 1973 was to Carlton’s Cy Young 1972.

I expect Cole Hamels to have a very bright future.

And he will not take much more of this abuse from Bud Selig and his cronies.

And neither should we philly fans.

And New York Yankee fans, you are cheating to win.

And to think I actually shed tears for you guys on 9/11.

And by the way, your NY Giants got rolled by the Eagles. At least the NFL runs a fair league. Thank you Pete Rozelle Paul Tagliabue and your successors.

Guess those memories of Joe Namath are starting to fade, eh?

–art kyriazis, philly
home of the world champion phillies, 2008 world champions
2008, 2009 National League pennant champs

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I wanted to wish a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover to all.

There’s an old joke, that goes something like this. A liberal is arguing with a conservative about the death penalty. Finally, exasperated, the conservative says to the liberal, “of course I’m in favor of the death penalty–without the death penalty, there’d be no Easter and no Easter Bunny!”

While this is an awful joke, it does remain true that in the two major capital punishment trials that we know about in history, Socrates and Jesus, as best we know, both were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. I won’t even get to the OJ trial, although as we all know, the glove didn’t fit and they had to acquit.

Obviously Socrates and Jesus could have used Johnny Cochran as their lawyer.

Socrates on dying, was reputed to have said something like, I die, you live, god knows who is going to the better place. Those of us who are religious of course believe that death brings us closer to a better place indeed, but Socrates provides a flash of insight that this short life is not the only one, that there is a spiritual and inner life that transcends death. Religion ministers to the soul, or at least to our conception of the soul, and consequently it is a vital part of our lives.

The Passover story about Moses leading the chosen people out of bondage and out of Egypt is a great story, as well as being an integral part of the old testament. “Exodus” is actually ancient greek for “Exothos” or “Exit” or “Leaving”. It’s the title of the book from the Ancient Greek Septuagint. The entire point of Exodus is the story of the Chosen People Leaving, “Exothos”, from Egypt and their bondage. God frees them from slavery and bondage through Moses and a series of miracles, each one greater than the last, which are celebrated each and every Passover.

It is such an important story because it gives hope to every oppressed peoples that God will redeem every one in bondage, free them and lead them to their own Promised Land. When Martin Luther King spoke of reaching the Promised Land, it was the Passover Story he was referring to. He didn’t need to explain that to his listeners, many of whom were careful Bible readers. The African-Americans of this country understood about bondage, redemption, and being led out of bondage and to the Promised Land.

On this Passover, we should think about these matters in considering President Obama, a man who has the potential to unite many different elements of society, and perhaps finally lead a people to the Promised Land. All oppressed peoples the world over hearken to the story of Exodus.

I’ve always had a strong faith in God and I don’t doubt God’s existence. Recently there’s been a spate of books and articles by respected scholars advocating atheism and the non-existence of God. I find this to be an awful waste of scholarly time, and especially of taxpayer and endowment money. Isn’t there something important these guys should be doing on our nickel?

Richard Dawkins, who once wrote a book called “The Selfish Gene,” is one of these. He used to teach at Harvard, now teaches in England, and appears to enjoy bashing God and religion in his books. Dawkins used to be a capable biologist. In his old age, he’s turned into a menacing crank who hates old ladies who go to church and pray to the saints and God for the memories of their dead husbands.

How mean can you possible get?

You might call him “The Selfish Dean” because he really seems only to care about himself. Is this what tenure breeds? Idiotic books about atheism? Pushed on us by editors and publishing houses?

Belief in God is a personal matter, but it also means a commitment to others, and to doing things for others, without considering the personal benefit to yourself. Sitting around the table at Easter, at Seder, at any family gathering, we give thanks to our creator and Lord for family, for health, for happiness. I can’t imagine a life without God or without prayer, a life without church or without friends from church or the church community.

I’ve looked at Dawkins’ books on atheism. They are poorly written, poorly argued, and basically are rants.

It’s not a careful argument.

A careful argument, for example, would be Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles, or Martin Luther’s 95 Theses against the Catholic Church, or John Calvin’s immense work of theology criticizing the Roman Catholic Church and setting forth the tenets of Calvinism.

Those are careful and thoughtful books, which make their cases carefully, point by point.

Dawkins’ books by contrast are awful and poorly researched and poorly written. It’s embarassing to see a professor publish such awful work. Especially when he was able while younger to write such a good book on biology as “The Selfish Gene.” It’s readily apparent Dawkins’ writing and intellectual skills have sharply declined with age.

But assuming that Dawkins (and any of these other atheists) has/have any rational or reasonable points to make, I’d like to refute them with Pascal’s Wager, for one. I think Dawkins is already refuted by the Transcendental a priori arguments of Kant for God’s existence, but Blaise Pascal made a classic probability argument which is, in fact, irrefutable on mathematical and utility grounds, for God’s existence.

Pascal said you should believe in God, because if you did, even if there was only a 1 in a million chance of his existence, the benefits would be eternal salvation, whereas if you denied Him, the possible harm would be eternal damnation.

Consequently, it’s a lot like the nuclear calculus–the benefits are so great, that even if there’s only a slight chance of God existing, it’s worth going all in on God. If you win, you get eternal salvation forever. (the nukes argument goes like, if there’s a one in a million chance of starting World War III, the harm is so great, you have to avoid it, because it’s nuclear winter and the death of mankind, so the policy can’t be adopted).

If you lose the wager, you burn in hell forever. I kind of envision Dawkins burning in a really hot part of hell, by the way. The part where they keep Bernie Madoff, child molesters, child molesting catholic priests and every single convicted defendant whose story was the real basis for the plot line of a LAW AND ORDER:SVU episode. Those stories are really pretty awful. This is a digression, but it’s hard to believe that’s Jayne Mansfield’s daughter in that show, by the way. Mariska Hargitay, emmy winning actress, now approximately in her mid-40s, and still very beautiful, is the daughter of Mickey Hargitay (a former Mr. Universe) and Jayne Mansfield, the 1950s starlet/sex bomb. I think you’d have to say that Mariska Hargitay has really had a solid acting career.

As for all of those who doubt God’s existence or lack faith in God, I give you an extended discusion of Pascal’s Wager from the Stanford Encylopaedia of Philosophy.

Pascal’s Wager
By Alan Hajek, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“Pascal’s Wager” is the name given to an argument due to Blaise Pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in God. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single paragraph of his Pensées, Pascal apparently presents at least three such arguments, each of which might be called a ‘wager’ — it is only the final of these that is traditionally referred to as “Pascal’s Wager”. We find in it the extraordinary confluence of several strands in intellectual thought: the justification of theism; probability theory and decision theory, used here for almost the first time in history; pragmatism; voluntarism (the thesis that belief is a matter of the will); and the use of the concept of infinity.

We will begin with some brief stage-setting: some historical background, some of the basics of decision theory, and some of the exegetical problems that the Pensées pose. Then we will follow the text to extract three main arguments. The bulk of the literature addresses the third of these arguments, as will the bulk of our discussion here. Some of the more technical and scholarly aspects of our discussion will be relegated to lengthy footnotes, to which there are links for the interested reader. All quotations are from §233 of Pensées (1910, Trotter translation), the ‘thought’ whose heading is “Infinite—nothing”.
• 1. Background
• 2. The Argument from Superdominance
• 3. The Argument from Expectation
• 4. The Argument from Generalized Expectations: “Pascal’s Wager”
• 5. Objections to Pascal’s Wager
• Bibliography
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries

1. Background
It is important to contrast Pascal’s argument with various putative ‘proofs’ of the existence of God that had come before it. Anselm’s ontological argument, Aquinas’ ‘five ways’, Descartes’ ontological and cosmological arguments, and so on, purport to give a priori demonstrations that God exists. Pascal is apparently unimpressed by such attempted justifications of theism: “Endeavour … to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God…” Indeed, he concedes that “we do not know if He is …”. Pascal’s project, then, is radically different: he seeks to provide prudential reasons for believing in God. To put it crudely, we should wager that God exists because it is the best bet. Ryan 1994 finds precursors to this line of reasoning in the writings of Plato, Arnobius, Lactantius, and others; we might add Ghazali to his list — see Palacios 1920. But what is distinctive is Pascal’s explicitly decision theoretic formulation of the reasoning. In fact, Hacking 1975 describes the Wager as “the first well-understood contribution to decision theory” (viii). Thus, we should pause briefly to review some of the basics of that theory.

In any decision problem, the way the world is, and what an agent does, together determine an outcome for the agent. We may assign utilities to such outcomes, numbers that represent the degree to which the agent values them. It is typical to present these numbers in a decision matrix, with the columns corresponding to the various relevant states of the world, and the rows corresponding to the various possible actions that the agent can perform.

In decisions under uncertainty, nothing more is given — in particular, the agent does not assign subjective probabilities to the states of the world. Still, sometimes rationality dictates a unique decision nonetheless. Consider, for example, a case that will be particularly relevant here. Suppose that you have two possible actions, A1 and A2, and the worst outcome associated with A1 is at least as good as the best outcome associated with A2; suppose also that in at least one state of the world, A1’s outcome is strictly better than A2’s. Let us say in that case that A1 superdominates A2. Then rationality surely requires you to perform A1.

In decisions under risk, the agent assigns subjective probabilities to the various states of the world. Assume that the states of the world are independent of what the agent does. A figure of merit called the expected utility, or the expectation of a given action can be calculated by a simple formula: for each state, multiply the utility that the action produces in that state by the state’s probability; then, add these numbers. According to decision theory, rationality requires you to perform the action of maximum expected utility (if there is one).

Example. Suppose that the utility of money is linear in number of dollars: you value money at exactly its face value. Suppose that you have the option of paying a dollar to play a game in which there is an equal chance of returning nothing, and returning three dollars. The expectation of the game itself is

0*(1/2) + 3*(1/2) = 1.5,

so the expectation of paying a dollar for certain, then playing, is

-1 + 1.5 = 0.5.

This exceeds the expectation of not playing (namely 0), so you should play. On the other hand, if the game gave an equal chance of returning nothing, and returning two dollars, then its expectation would be:

0*(1/2) + 2*(1/2) = 1.

Then consistent with decision theory, you could either pay the dollar to play, or refuse to

play, for either way your overall expectation would be 0.

Considerations such as these will play a crucial role in Pascal’s arguments. It should be admitted that there are certain exegetical problems in presenting these arguments. Pascal never finished the Pensées, but rather left them in the form of notes of various sizes pinned together. Hacking 1972 describes the “Infinite—nothing” as consisting of “two pieces of paper covered on both sides by handwriting going in all directions, full of erasures, corrections, insertions, and afterthoughts” (24).[1] This may explain why certain passages are notoriously difficult to interpret, as we will see. Furthermore, our formulation of the arguments in the parlance of modern Bayesian decision theory might appear somewhat anachronistic. For example, Pascal did not distinguish between what we would now call objective and subjective probability, although it is clear that it is the latter that is relevant to his arguments. To some extent, “Pascal’s Wager” now has a life of its own, and our presentation of it here is perfectly standard. Still, we will closely follow Pascal’s text, supporting our reading of his arguments as much as possible.

There is the further problem of dividing the Infinite-nothing into separate arguments. We will locate three arguments that each conclude that rationality requires you to wager for God, although they interleave in the text.[2] Finally, there is some disagreement over just what “wagering for God” involves — is it believing in God, or merely trying to? We will conclude with a discussion of what Pascal meant by this.

2. The Argument from Superdominance
Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must “wager” one way or the other. Reason cannot settle which way we should incline, but a consideration of the relevant outcomes supposedly can. Here is the first key passage:

“God is, or He is not.”

But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up… Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, you knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose… But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is… If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

There are exegetical problems already here, partly because Pascal appears to contradict himself. He speaks of “the true” as something that you can “lose”, and “error” as something “to shun”. Yet he goes on to claim that if you lose the wager that God is, then “you lose nothing”. Surely in that case you “lose the true”, which is just to say that you have made an error. Pascal believes, of course, that the existence of God is “the true” — but that is not something that he can appeal to in this argument. Moreover, it is not because “you must of necessity choose” that “your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other”. Rather, by Pascal’s own account, it is because “[r]eason can decide nothing here”. (If it could, then it might well be shocked — namely, if you chose in a way contrary to it.)

Following McClennen 1994, Pascal’s argument seems to be best captured as presenting the following decision matrix:
God exists God does not exist
Wager for God Gain all Status quo
Wager against God Misery Status quo

Wagering for God superdominates wagering against God: the worst outcome associated with wagering for God (status quo) is at least as good as the best outcome associated with wagering against God (status quo); and if God exists, the result of wagering for God is strictly better that the result of wagering against God.

(The fact that the result is much better does not matter yet.) Pascal draws the conclusion at this point that rationality requires you to wager for God.

Without any assumption about your probability assignment to God’s existence, the argument is invalid. Rationality does not require you to wager for God if you assign probability 0 to God existing. And Pascal does not explicitly rule this possibility out until a later passage, when he assumes that you assign positive probability to God’s existence; yet this argument is presented as if it is self-contained. His claim that “[r]eason can decide nothing here” may suggest that Pascal regards this as a decision under uncertainty, which is to assume that you do not assign probability at all to God’s existence. If that is a further premise, then the argument is valid; but that premise contradicts his subsequent assumption that you assign positive probability. See McClennen for a reading of this argument as a decision under uncertainty.

Pascal appears to be aware of a further objection to this argument, for he immediately imagines an opponent replying:

“That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much.”

The thought seems to be that if I wager for God, and God does not exist, then I really do lose something. In fact, Pascal himself speaks of staking something when one wagers for God, which presumably one loses if God does not exist. (We have already mentioned ‘the true’ as one such thing; Pascal also seems to regard one’s worldly life as another.) In other words, the matrix is mistaken in presenting the two outcomes under ‘God does not exist’ as if they were the same, and we do not have a case of superdominance after all.
Pascal addresses this at once in his second argument, which we will discuss only briefly, as it can be thought of as just a prelude to the main argument.

3. The Argument From Expectation
He continues:

Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness.

His hypothetically speaking of “two lives” and “three lives” may strike one as odd. It is helpful to bear in mind Pascal’s interest in gambling (which after all provided the initial motivation for his study of probability) and to take the gambling model quite seriously here. Recall our calculation of the expectations of the two dollar and three dollar gambles. Pascal apparently assumes now that utility is linear in number of lives, that wagering for God costs “one life”, and then reasons analogously to the way we did! This is, as it were, a warm-up. Since wagering for God is rationally required even in the hypothetical case in which one of the prizes is three lives, then all the more it is rationally required in the actual case, in which one of the prizes is eternal life (salvation).

So Pascal has now made two striking assumptions:

(1) The probability of God’s existence is 1/2.

(2) Wagering for God brings infinite reward if God exists.

Morris 1994 is sympathetic to (1), while Hacking 1972 finds it “a monstrous premiss”. It apparently derives from the classical interpretation of probability, according to which all possibilities are given equal weight. Of course, unless more is said, the interpretation yields implausible, and even contradictory results. (You have a one-in-a-million chance of winning the lottery; but either you win the lottery or you don’t, so each of these possibilities has probability 1/2?!) Pascal’s best argument for (1) is presumably that “[r]eason can decide nothing here”. (In the lottery ticket case, reason can decide something.) But it is not clear that complete ignorance should be modeled as sharp indifference. In any case, it is clear that there are people in Pascal’s audience who do not assign probability 1/2 to God’s existence. This argument, then, does not speak to them.
However, Pascal realizes that the value of 1/2 actually plays no real role in the argument, thanks to (2). This brings us to the third, and by far the most important, of his arguments.

4. The Argument From Generalized Expectations: “Pascal’s Wager”
We continue the quotation.

But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. It is all divided; wherever the infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all…

Again this passage is difficult to understand completely. Pascal’s talk of winning two, or three, lives is at best misleading. By his own decision theoretic lights, you would not act stupidly “by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you”—in fact, you should not stake more than an infinitesimal amount in that case (an amount that is bigger than 0, but smaller than every positive real number). The point, rather, is that the prospective prize is “an infinity of an infinitely happy life”.

In short, if God exists, then wagering for God results in infinite utility.

What about the utilities for the other possible outcomes? There is some dispute over the utility of “misery”. Hacking interprets this as “damnation”, and Pascal does later speak of “hell” as the outcome in this case. Martin 1983 among others assigns this a value of negative infinity. Sobel 1996, on the other hand, is one author who takes this value to be finite. There is some textual support for this reading: “The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast … than mercy towards the elect”.

As for the utilities of the outcomes associated with God’s non-existence, Pascal tells us that “what you stake is finite”. This suggests that whatever these values are, they are finite.
Pascal’s guiding insight is that the argument from expectation goes through equally well whatever your probability for God’s existence is, provided that it is non-zero and finite (non-infinitesimal) — “a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss”.[3]

With Pascal’s assumptions about utilities and probabilities in place, he is now in a position to calculate the relevant expectations. He explains how the calculations should proceed:
… the uncertainty of the gain is proportioned to the certainty of the stake according to the proportion of the chances of gain and loss… [4]

Let us now gather together all of these points into a single argument. We can think of Pascal’s Wager as having three premises: the first concerns the decision matrix of rewards, the second concerns the probability that you should give to God’s existence, and the third is a maxim about rational decision-making. Specifically:
1. Either God exists or God does not exist, and you can either wager for God or wager against God. The utilities of the relevant possible outcomes are as follows, where f1, f2, and f3 are numbers whose values are not specified beyond the requirement that they be finite:

God exists God does not exist
Wager for God ∞ f1
Wager against God f2 f3

2. Rationality requires the probability that you assign to God existing to be positive, and not infinitesimal.

3. Rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility (when there is one).

4. Conclusion 1. Rationality requires you to wager for God.

5. Conclusion 2. You should wager for God.

We have a decision under risk, with probabilities assigned to the relevant ways the world could be, and utilities assigned to the relevant outcomes. The conclusion seems straightforwardly to follow from the usual calculations of expected utility (where p is your positive, non-infinitesimal probability for God’s existence):

E(wager for God) = ∞*p + f1*(1 − p) = ∞

That is, your expected utility of belief in God is infinite — as Pascal puts it, “our proposition is of infinite force”. On the other hand, your expected utility of wagering against God is

E(wager against God) = f2*p + f3*(1 − p)

This is finite.[5] By premise 3, rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility.

Therefore, rationality requires you to wager for God.

We now survey some of the main objections to the argument.

5. Objections to Pascal’s Wager
Premise 1: The Decision Matrix
Here the objections are manifold. Most of them can be stated quickly, but we will give special attention to what has generally been regarded as the most important of them, ‘the many Gods objection’ (see also the link to footnote 7).

1. Different matrices for different people.
The argument assumes that the same decision matrix applies to everybody. However, perhaps the relevant rewards are different for different people. Perhaps, for example, there is a predestined infinite reward for the Chosen, whatever they do, and finite utility for the rest, as Mackie 1982 suggests. Or maybe the prospect of salvation appeals more to some people than to others, as Swinburne 1969 has noted.
Even granting that a single 2 x 2 matrix applies to everybody, one might dispute the values that enter into it. This brings us to the next two objections.

2. The utility of salvation could not be infinite.
One might argue that the very notion of infinite utility is suspect — see for example Jeffrey 1983 and McClennen 1994.[6] Hence, the objection continues, whatever the utility of salvation might be, it must be finite. Strict finitists, who are chary of the notion of infinity in general, will agree — see Dummett 1978 and Wright 1987. Or perhaps the notion of infinite utility makes sense, but an infinite reward could only be finitely appreciated by a human being.

3. There should be more than one infinity in the matrix.
There are also critics of the Wager who, far from objecting to infinite utilities, want to see more of them in the matrix. For example, it might be thought that a forgiving God would bestow infinite utility upon wagerers-for and wagerers-against alike — Rescher 1985 is one author who entertains this possibility. Or it might be thought that, on the contrary, wagering against an existent God results in negative infinite utility. (As we have noted, some authors read Pascal himself as saying as much.) Either way, f2 is not really finite at all, but ∞ or -∞ as the case may be. And perhaps f1 and f3 could be ∞ or -∞. Suppose, for instance, that God does not exist, but that we are reincarnated ad infinitum, and that the total utility we receive is an infinite sum that does not converge.

4. The matrix should have more rows.
Perhaps there is more than one way to wager for God, and the rewards that God bestows vary accordingly. For instance, God might not reward infinitely those who strive to believe in Him only for the very mercenary reasons that Pascal gives, as James 1956 has observed. One could also imagine distinguishing belief based on faith from belief based on evidential reasons, and posit different rewards in each case.

6. The matrix should have more columns: the many Gods objection.
If Pascal is really right that reason can decide nothing here, then it would seem that various other theistic hypotheses are also live options. Pascal presumably had in mind the Catholic conception of God — let us suppose that this is the God who either ‘exists’ or ‘does not exist’. By excluded middle, this is a partition. The objection, then, is that the partition is not sufficiently fine-grained, and the ‘(Catholic) God does not exist’ column really subdivides into various other theistic hypotheses. The objection could equally run that Pascal’s argument ‘proves too much’: by parallel reasoning we can ‘show’ that rationality requires believing in various incompatible theistic hypotheses. As Diderot 1875-77 puts the point: “An Imam could reason just as well this way”.[7]

Since then, the point has been represented and refined in various ways. Mackie 1982 writes, “the church within which alone salvation is to be found is not necessarily the Church of Rome, but perhaps that of the Anabaptists or the Mormons or the Muslim Sunnis or the worshippers of Kali or of Odin” (203). Cargile 1966 shows just how easy it is to multiply theistic hypotheses: for each real number x, consider the God who prefers contemplating x more than any other activity. It seems, then, that such ‘alternative gods’ are a dime a dozen — or aleph one, for that matter.

Premise 2: The Probability Assigned to God’s Existence
There are four sorts of problem for this premise. The first two are straightforward; the second two are more technical, and can be found by following the link to footnote 8.
1. Undefined probability for God’s existence. Premise 1 presupposes that you should have a probability for God’s existence in the first place. However, perhaps you could rationally fail to assign it a probability — your probability that God exists could remain undefined. We cannot enter here into the thorny issues concerning the attribution of probabilities to agents. But there is some support for this response even in Pascal’s own text, again at the pivotal claim that “[r]eason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up…” The thought could be that any probability assignment is inconsistent with a state of “epistemic nullity” (in Morris’ 1986 phrase): to assign a probability at all — even 1/2 — to God’s existence is to feign having evidence that one in fact totally lacks. For unlike a coin that we know to be fair, this metaphorical ‘coin’ is ‘infinitely far’ from us, hence apparently completely unknown to us. Perhaps, then, rationality actually requires us to refrain from assigning a probability to God’s existence (in which case at least the Argument from Superdominance would be valid). Or perhaps rationality does not require it, but at least permits it. Either way, the Wager would not even get off the ground.

2. Zero probability for God’s existence. Strict atheists may insist on the rationality of a probability assignment of 0, as Oppy 1990 among others points out. For example, they may contend that reason alone can settle that God does not exist, perhaps by arguing that the very notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent being is contradictory. Or a Bayesian might hold that rationality places no constraint on probabilistic judgments beyond coherence (or conformity to the probability calculus). Then as long as the strict atheist assigns probability 1 to God’s non-existence alongside his or her assignment of 0 to God’s existence, no norm of rationality has been violated.
Furthermore, an assignment of p = 0 would clearly block the route to Pascal’s conclusion. For then the expectation calculations become:

E(wager for God) = ∞*0 + f1*(1 − 0) = f1

E(wager against God) = f2*0 + f3*(1 − 0) = f3

And nothing in the argument implies that f1 > f3. (Indeed, this inequality is questionable, as even Pascal seems to allow.) In short, Pascal’s wager has no pull on strict atheists.[8]

Premise 3: Rationality Requires Maximizing Expected Etility
Finally, one could question Pascal’s decision theoretic assumption that rationality requires one to perform the act of maximum expected utility (when there is one). Now perhaps this is an analytic truth, in which case we could grant it to Pascal without further discussion — perhaps it is constitutive of rationality to maximize expectation, as some might say. But this premise has met serious objections. The Allais 1953 and Ellsberg 1961 paradoxes, for example, are said to show that maximizing expectation can lead one to perform intuitively sub-optimal actions. So too the St. Petersburg paradox, in which it is supposedly absurd that one should be prepared to pay any finite amount to play a game with infinite expectation. (That paradox is particularly apposite here.)[9]

Finally, one might distinguish between practical rationality and theoretical rationality. One could then concede that practical rationality requires you to maximize expected utility, while insisting that theoretical rationality might require something else of you — say, proportioning belief to the amount of evidence available. This objection is especially relevant, since Pascal admits that perhaps you “must renounce reason” in order to follow his advice. But when these two sides of rationality pull in opposite directions, as they apparently can here, it is not obvious that practical rationality should take precedence. (For a discussion of pragmatic, as opposed to theoretical, reasons for belief, see Foley 1994.)

Is the Argument Valid?

A number of authors who have been otherwise critical of the Wager have explicitly conceded that the Wager is valid — e.g. Mackie 1982, Rescher 1985, Mougin and Sober 1994, and most emphatically, Hacking 1972. That is, these authors agree with Pascal that wagering for God really is rationally mandated by Pascal’s decision matrix in tandem with positive probability for God’s existence, and the decision theoretic account of rational action.

However, Duff 1986 and Hájek 2001 argue that the argument is in fact invalid. Their point is that there are strategies besides wagering for God that also have infinite expectation — namely, mixed strategies, whereby you do not wager for or against God outright, but rather choose which of these actions to perform on the basis of the outcome of some chance device. Consider the mixed strategy: “Toss a fair coin: heads, you wager for God; tails, you wager against God”. By Pascal’s lights, with probability 1/2 your expectation will be infinite, and with probability 1/2 it will be finite. The expectation of the entire strategy is:

1/2*∞ + 1/2[f2*p + f3*(1 − p)] = ∞

That is, the ‘coin toss’ strategy has the same expectation as outright wagering for God. But the probability 1/2 was incidental to the result. Any mixed strategy that gives positive and finite probability to wagering for God will likewise have infinite expectation: “wager for God iff a fair die lands 6”, “wager for God iff your lottery ticket wins”, “wager for God iff a meteor quantum tunnels its way through the side of your house”, and so on.

The problem is still worse than this, though, for there is a sense in which anything that you do might be regarded as a mixed strategy between wagering for God, and wagering against God, with suitable probability weights given to each. Suppose that you choose to ignore the Wager, and to go and have a hamburger instead. Still, you may well assign positive and finite probability to your winding up wagering for God nonetheless; and this probability multiplied by infinity again gives infinity. So ignoring the Wager and having a hamburger has the same expectation as outright wagering for God. Even worse, suppose that you focus all your energy into avoiding belief in God. Still, you may well assign positive and finite probability to your efforts failing, with the result that you wager for God nonetheless. In that case again, your expectation is infinite again. So even if rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility when there is one, here there isn’t one. Rather, there is a many-way tie for first place, as it were.[10]

Moral Objections to Wagering for God

Let us grant Pascal’s conclusion for the sake of the argument: rationality requires you to wager for God. It still does not obviously follow that you should wager for God. All that we have granted is that one norm — the norm of rationality — prescribes wagering for God. For all that has been said, some other norm might prescribe wagering against God. And unless we can show that the rationality norm trumps the others, we have not settled what we should actually do.

There are several arguments to the effect that morality requires you to wager against God. Pascal himself appears to be aware of one such argument. He admits that if you do not believe in God, his recommended course of action will “deaden your acuteness.” One way of putting the argument is that wagering for God may require you to corrupt yourself, thus violating a Kantian duty to yourself. Clifford 1986 argues that an individual’s believing something on insufficient evidence harms society by promoting credulity. Penelhum 1971 contends that the putative divine plan is itself immoral, condemning as it does honest non-believers to loss of eternal happiness, when such unbelief is in no way culpable; and that to adopt the relevant belief is to be complicit to this immoral plan. See Quinn 1994 for replies to these arguments. For example, against Penelhum he argues that as long as God treats non-believers justly, there is nothing immoral about him bestowing special favor on believers, more perhaps than they deserve. (Note, however, that Pascal leaves open in the Wager whether the payoff for non-believers is just, even though as far as his argument goes, it may be extremely poor.)

Finally, Voltaire protests that there is something unseemly about the whole Wager. He suggests that Pascal’s calculations, and his appeal to self-interest, are unworthy of the gravity of the subject of theistic belief. This does not so much support wagering against God, as dismissing all talk of ‘wagerings’ altogether.

What Does It Mean to “Wager for God”?

Let us now grant Pascal that, all things considered (rationality and morality included), you should wager for God. What exactly does this involve?

A number of authors read Pascal as arguing that you should believe in God — see e.g. Quinn 1994, and Jordan 1994a. But perhaps one cannot simply believe in God at will; and rationality cannot require the impossible. Pascal is well aware of this objection: “[I] am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?”, says his imaginary interlocutor. However, he contends that one can take steps to cultivate such belief:

You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc…

But to show you that this leads you there, it is this which will lessen the passions, which are your stumbling-blocks.

We find two main pieces of advice to the non-believer here: act like a believer, and suppress those passions that are obstacles to becoming a believer. And these are actions that one can perform at will.
Believing in God is presumably one way to wager for God. This passage suggests that even the non-believer can wager for God, by striving to become a believer. Critics may question the psychology of belief formation that Pascal presupposes, pointing out that one could strive to believe (perhaps by following exactly Pascal’s prescription), yet fail. To this, a follower of Pascal might reply that the act of genuine striving already displays a pureness of heart that God would fully reward; or even that genuine striving in this case is itself a form of believing.

Pascal’s Wager vies with Anselm’s Ontological Argument for being the most famous argument in the philosophy of religion. As we have seen, it is also a great deal more besides.


• Allais, Maurice. 1953. “Le Comportment de l’Homme Rationnel Devant la Risque: Critique des Postulats et Axiomes de l’École Américaine”, Econometrica 21: 503-546.
• Broome, John. 1995. “The Two-Envelope Paradox”, Analysis 55: 1, 6-11.
• Brown, Geoffrey. 1984. “A Defence of Pascal’s Wager”, Religious Studies 20: 465-79.
• Cain, James. 1995. “Infinite Utility”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 73, No. 3, 401-404.
• Cargile, James. 1966. “Pascal’s Wager”, Philosophy, 35: 250-7.
• Castell, Paul and Diderik Batens. 1994. “The Two-Envelope Paradox: the Infinite Case”, Analysis 54: 46-49.
• Chalmers, David. 1997. “The Two-Envelope Paradox: A Complete Analysis?”, manuscript, http://ling.ucsc.edu/~chalmers/papers/envelope.html (and envelope.ps)
• Clifford, William K. 1986. “The Ethics of Belief”, The Ethics of Belief Debate, ed. Gerald D. McCarthy, Scholars Press.
• Conway, John. 1976. On Numbers and Games, Academic Press.
• Cutland, Nigel, ed. 1988. Nonstandard Analysis and its Applications, London Mathematical Society, Student Texts 10.
• Diderot, Denis. 1875-1877. Pensées Philosophiques, LIX, Oeuvres, ed. J. Assézat, Vol. I.
• Duff, Antony. 1986. “Pascal’s Wager and Infinite Utilities”, Analysis 46: 107-9. n
• Dummett, Michael. 1978. “Wang’s Paradox”, in Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press.
• Ellsberg, D.. 1961. “Risk, Ambiguity and the Savage Axioms”, Quarterly Journal of Economics 25: 643-669.
• Feller, William. 1971. An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications, Vol. II, 2nd edition, Wiley.
• Flew, Anthony. 1960. “Is Pascal’s Wager the Only Safe Bet?”, The Rationalist Annual, 76: 21-25.
• Foley, Richard. 1994. “Pragmatic Reasons for Belief”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Hacking, Ian. 1972. “The Logic of Pascal’s Wager”, American Philosophical Quarterly 9/2, 186-92. Reprinted in Jordan 1994b.
• Hacking, Ian. 1975. The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge University Press.
• Hájek, Alan. 1997a. “Review of Gambling on God” (Jordan 1994b), Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 1, March 1997, 119-122.
• Hájek, Alan. 1997b. “The Illogic of Pascal’s Wager”, Proceedings of the 10th Logica International Symposium, Liblice, ed. T. Childers et al, 239-249.
• Hájek, Alan. 2000. “Objecting Vaguely to Pascal’s Wager”, Philosophical Studies, vol. 82.
• Hájek, Alan. 2001. “Waging War on Pascal’s Wager: Infinite Decision Theory and Belief in God”, manuscript.
• Jackson, Frank, Peter Menzies and Graham Oppy. 1994. “The Two Envelope ‘Paradox’”, Analysis 54: 46-49.
• James, William. 1956. “The Will to Believe”, in The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, Dover Publications.
• Jeffrey, Richard C.. 1983. The Logic of Decision, 2nd edition, University of Chicago Press.
• Jordan, Jeff. 1994a. “The Many Gods Objection”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Jordan, Jeff, ed.. 1994b. Gambling on God: Essays on Pascal’s Wager, Rowman & Littlefield.
• Lewis, David. 1981. “Causal Decision Theory”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59, 5-30; reprinted in Philosophical Papers, Volume II, Oxford University Press, 1986.
• Lindstrom, Tom. 1988. “Invitation to Non-Standard Analysis”, in Cutland 1988.
• Mackie, J. L.. 1982. The Miracle of Theism, Oxford.
• Martin, Michael. 1983. “Pascal’s Wager as an Argument for Not Believing in God”, Religious Studies 19: 57-64.
• Martin, Michael. 1990. Atheism: a Philosophical Justification, Temple University Press.
• McClennen, Edward. 1994. “Finite Decision Theory”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Morris, T. V. 1986. “Pascalian Wagering”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16, 437-54.
• Morris, Thomas V. 1994. “Wagering and the Evidence”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Mougin, Gregory, and Elliot Sober. 1994. “Betting Against Pascal’s Wager”, Nous XXVIII: 382-395.
• Nalebuff, B. 1989. “Puzzles: The Other Person’s Envelope is Always Greener”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 3: 171-91.
• Nelson, Edward. 1987. Radically Elementary Probability Theory, Annals of Mathematics Studies, Princeton University Press.
• Nelson, Mark T.. 1991. “Utilitarian Eschatology”, American Philosophical Quarterly, 339-347.
• Ng, Yew-Kwang. 1995. “Infinite Utility and Van Liedekerke’s Impossibility: A Solution”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 73: 408-411.
• Oppy, Graham. 1990. “On Rescher on Pascal’s Wager”, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 30: 159-68.
• Palacios, M. Asin. 1920. “Los Precedentes Musulmanes del ‘Pari’ de Pascal”, Santander.
• Pascal, Blaise. 1910. Pascal’s Pensées, translated by W. F. Trotter.
• Penelhum, Terence. 1971. Religion and Rationality, Random House.
• Rescher, Nicholas. 1985. Pascal’s Wager, Notre Dame.
• Robinson, Abraham. 1966. Non-Standard Analysis, North Holland.
• Ryan, John. 1945. “The Wager in Pascal and Others”, New Scholasticism 19/3, 233-50. Reprinted in Jordan 1994 b.
• Quinn, Philip L. 1994. “Moral Objections to Pascalian Wagering”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Schlesinger, George. 1994. “A Central Theistic Argument”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Skalia, H. J.. 1975. Non-Archimedean Utility Theory, D. Reidel.
• Sobel, Howard. 1994. “Two Envelopes”, Theory and Decision, 69-96.
• Sobel, Howard. 1996. “Pascalian Wagers”, Synthese 108: 11-61.
• Sorensen, Roy. 1994. “Infinite Decision Theory”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Swinburne, R. G.. 1969. “The Christian Wager”, Religious Studies 4: 217-28.
• Vallentyne, Peter. 1993. “Utilitarianism and Infinite Utility”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71: 212-217.
• Vallentyne, Peter. 1995. “Infinite Utility: Anonymity and Person-Centredness”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73: 413-420.
• Vallentyne, Peter and Shelly Kagan. 1997. “Infinite Value and Finitely Additive Value Theory”, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XCIV, 1: 5-27
• Van Liedekerke, Luc. 1995. “Should Utilitarians Be Cautious About an Infinite Future?”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 73, No. 3, 405-407.
• Weirich, Paul. 1984. “The St. Petersburg Gamble and Risk”, Theory and Decision 17: 193-202.
• Wright, Crispin. 1987. “Strict Finitism”, in Realism, Meaning and Truth, Blackwell.

Copyright © 1998, 2001
Alan Hájek

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

See also, Stephen R. Welch’s page on Pascal’s Wager

It probably isn’t news to anyone currently breathing that every newspaper owning corporation in the United States is currently in bankruptcy Chapter 11 proceedings. Here in Philadelphia, after sinking more that 500 million bucks to take the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philly Daily News off the hands of the guys who bought them from Knight Ridder, the purchasing group headed by Brian Tierney et al. ended more than eleven months of negotiations with creditors by filing for Chapter 11 protection with the United States Bankruptcy Court, meaning reorganization and possible liquidation. There are serious rumors that only one of the two newspapers will survive, probably the Inquirer.

In a way, this is strange, because there was a time in Philadelphia, and I don’t mean going back to Ben Franklin, when it was obvious that the Inquirer was the worst and most pitiful newspaper in town. The Philadelphia Public Ledger was the newspaper of record (its building still stands at 6th & Chestnut) for many decades, while the Philadelphia Bulletin was clearly the better of the two papers while the Bulletin and Inquirer were the two main papers in the second half of the 20th century.

Of course, the Public Ledger went under in the Great Depression; it died in a court-ordered liquidation in 1941 or 1942. This may just be history repeating itself. The Public Ledger was owned jointly by the owners of the NY Times, incidentally.

For a complete list of ALL newspapers ever printed in Philadelphia, go to this website pdf of newspapers held by the free library of philadelphia;


you’ll be shocked and amazed how many newspapers there have been and how many small ones there still are other than the inquirer and daily news even now.

But then again, the Philadelphia Athletics won five world series and too many pennants to count between 1901 and 1953, and were the main baseball team in Philadelphia for more than fifty years. No one gave a fig about the Phillies. It was only after Connie Mack died and the A’s moved away that the Phillies finally developed a fan base, and even then not really until the 1964 pennant run with Dick Allen and Jim Bunning did they really draw any fans. But who remembers the A’s today in Philly? Where are they today? No one in Philadelphia remembers them at all.

There’s a small museum in one of the counties, and a small bronze plaque at the new ballpark. That’s about it for the team that in the first half of the 20th century was the second best ballclub in the American League, and by far the best professional sports team in Philadelphia.

Getting back to newspapers, the point is that you can’t understand history by looking at it now. If you looked around now and saw humans, you’d never know that dinosaurs once ruled the earth. Likewise, looking around and seeing the Inquirer being the main newspaper, you’d never know that once there was a Public Ledger, a Bulletin, and probably a dozen other papers. Even the Saturday Evening Post, the nation’s number one women’s magazine, was published right here in Philadelphia, but it died too. That building is still around also. We have seen the end of magazines like Life, the Saturday Evening Post, and most recently, U.S. News & World Report, in the past forty years. Now newspapers are dying as well.

There were a lot of great movies about newspapers. The best movie of all time is about newspapers. Here I refer to Citizen Kane (1941), which is a thinly veiled biopic of William Randolph Hearst and his media empire.

There’s also Meet John Doe (1936) and let’s not forget All the President’s Men (1974).

I’d throw in Broadcast News (1980s) as well, even though it’s really a TV movie, just because it’s flat out hysterically funny and not at all dated, and because Brooks is one of my favorite comics in the world other than Mike Reiss. Just looking at Brooks makes you laugh.

But history does repeat itself. The Hearst media empire was bankrupted by the Great Depression—so much so that Hearst himself, so rich that he could build the Heart mansion—the famous “Xanadu” in the Kane movie—in San Simeon, California—now a famous museum—actually lost all his money to his creditors in bankruptcy proceedings and lost control of his newspaper holdings. No one today has heard of the New York newspapers that Hearst made his fortune from.

Now, we are going through another serious economic dislocation which is again severely affecting media badly. As badly as Hearst was affected by the Depression and War years, that’s how badly newspapers and old media will be affected this time around. Add to that the free news which is available on the internet, and on every persons’ telephone, and one would be silly to expend money for a newspaper.

It’s quite obvious that within another twenty years, there will be no more magazines or newspapers in print at all, that everything will be delivered right to your computer, tv or phone via internet. Maybe (and I often futurize about this) the convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology will eventuate in a chip being implanted in your brain or neural net, so that you can visualize the images yourself without a machine mediating at all. Perhaps we’ll all be connected to the internet and to each other one day in such a fashion. It’s difficult to make radical predictions, but then again, in 1910, no one could have predicted that baseball, then a deadball sport based on bunting, stealing and pitching, would in the 1920s and thereafter become a sport of sitting around waiting for someone to hit a three run home run.

I will miss the Philadelphia Daily News. For the last forty years, it’s been the best sports paper in the country, and I’ve read all the other papers around, including the Boston Globe, the Chicago, the LA, the NY and SF papers. NY has tabloids basically and no good writing at all; the Boston Globe for a long time had great writers, but they’ve all gone to ESPN or national outlets where the money really is; and no other city really had good sports writing. Philly might be the last town in which there’s been good beat writing and sports writing for a long time now.

If the Daily News goes, that will probably be the end of it, though it may survive on line since there’s an online edition of the daily news that’s pretty good, and even better, available nationally to all former philly residents who follow their teams. So when they throw the last daily news into the fire and you see the sled burning with the name “rosebud,” remember you read it here—this was all a story about Charley Foster Kane, who wanted to be the world’s greatest newspaperman, and succeeded all too well.

By the way, I mentioned in a prior post that GE was way off about Jimmy Fallon? GE stock is now trading at five dollars a share. That’s right, five dollars a share. they made a big deal about this on one of the network news shows while i was working out on the elliptical at the gym. whoa nellie! The stock apparently has completely crashed.

Jack and Suzy Welch, would you buy this company’s stock? It was trading at $40 just last year. And now it’s down to $5 a share and dropping like a rock. Pretty soon it will be worth, say, 1923 German deutsche marks, which is to say, nothing.

Oh yes I would says the Wizard of OZ. You can get a thousand shares in this company now for the price of a song. Heck, the only place the stock can go is a little down, or a lot up.

I said they should have bumped Leno three years ago. While I recognize most of their problems are with GE Capital, entertainment is the division that’s always recession proof.

If you’re not sure about that, check out the fact that 1930s and 1970s are the greatest eras of film history.

Jimmy Fallon had another great show–Jon Bon Jovi did a duet with one of his fans, while Tina Fey sat and rooted the two of them on. I think it was the girls’ dream moment of her life, all caught on camera. You can bet that will be on youtube.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
You can

Indifference to death is the supreme claim of a successful moral theory. Mortality, the biblical threescore and ten years we are given on this earth, is and was the human condition for the ancients and the moderns. Transcendence of mortality therefore becomes a categorical imperative for any moral theory to attain success.

At a recent alumni dinner where there were a number of attorneys, i asked some of my colleagues around the table if they had given any thought to the afterlife. Most of the people at the table looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. I pressed the point, and asked, you get ready for trials, but what about the ultimate trial, the final trial, the final judgment in the life to come? Don’t you want to be ready for that? Again, blank faces and almost no thought given to the concept in the slightest. I found this interesting, and wanted to give it some thought. This essay was the result.

Maybe this is what is wrong with the legal profession today. Lots of ethics courses, but no courses as to the essence of ethical thought–the soul and its salvation. And yet Plato and Aristotle, especially Plato, write about the soul, about lawyers and the salvation of the soul in the life to come, and about ethics, almost to the exclusion of all else. And of course, Christianity absorbs Plato through neo-Platonism, and a lot of Aristotle too. So have we forgotten everything we learned back at the dawn of Western thought? Have we forgotten that you can’t take it with you, to paraphrase a famous play we used to read in prep school? That a rich man will find it harder to get into heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? That Lazarus will be by God’s side while the rich man will be burning from thirst in hell? Have we forgotten all of this in our search for worldly rewards?

I assume we all agree here that Bernie Madoff is definitely going to hell, but we’re not sure what level of Dante’s Inferno he’s being assigned at present.

So here are a few comments on four ethical systems that have given plenty of thought on this matter, and incidentally, most every lawyer in the greco-roman world was at the very least, a stoic or a christian.

Characteristically convergent in the three moral systems of Stoicism, Spartanism and Samurai/Bushido is the conquest of death through roughly parallel means. Christianity in its neo-platonic formulation through the Hellenistic church fathers, starting with Clement of Alexandria and running through the Greek Church Fathers, St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nazianzen, St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. John Chrystostomos, and finding its eventual final expression in St. Augustine, a much later Latin church father, also conquers death as well.

As St. John Chrystostomos so memorably puts it, “Death, Where is Thy Sting?” However, Christian eschatology and cosmology sharply distinguish it from the Stoic, Spartan and Samurai traditions. There will be a second coming, and a second judgment, a final judgment, but so long as the Christian adheres to the seven sacraments and worships through the Church, his salvation is ordained, and he or she will be saved in the life to come. Here, we are speaking of the early Eastern Christian church, 100 AD – 1000 AD, as opposed to the later Western church, 1000 AD – present, which was split by the east-west schism, the Albigensian Crusade, the 4th Crusade, the Crusades in general, the Protestant movements, and so on. The early Church, by contrast, was relatively unified (setting aside the Arian, Manichean and Nestorian and other heresies, which are not material here) and was constituted by its seven ecumenical councils as a unified and generic whole. Even as to the schismatic churches of the Near East, the churches of Nestorianism and so forth, which had millions of adherents up through around 1400 AD in Syria, Iran, China and many other areas where the majority religion was either Muslim or other, the message was the same, that death could be overcome by salvation through the Church.

By Stoicism we refer to the ancient Greek philosophy which emerged in Athens at the stoa, which is best known by the work of greek philosophers such as Epictetus, and follow it to its most perfect expression in the Roman philosophies of such writers as Cicero and Marcus Aurelius. The Roman/Latin followers of stoicism, of whom there were many, were comfortable with stoicism, since it was perfectly suited to a milititaristic society ruled by capricious and arbitrary imperial factions which could change suddenly and without warning, often with drastic policy implications. Because conditions were constantly volatile at the micro level, even though there was an overall “pax Romana,” stoicism was an ideal philophy.

We note in this introduction the essentially dual character of stoicism, as both a military and an ethical philosophy, one ideally suited to the greek or roman warrior or pacific citizen alike. The warrior at peace in stoic tranquility could perform his military assignments with a minimum of moral concern either for his enemy’s or his own death; likewise the citizen going about his tasks was also able to work hard, indifferent to illness, suffering or the exigencies of mortality, and to the machinations of politics and the state.

Turning to the Spartan way of life, which was essentially a philosophy and ethical system, again we see a military and ethical system in place. First, we define the Spartan system as that system in place in Ancient Sparta from roughly 700 BC to approximately 350 BC, when the Spartan State began to lose its military supremacy to Thebes, and lost its martial character and started to blend shortly thereafter into the larger Hellenistic World created by Alexander the Great and his Successors.

During their time of glory, the Spartan method of training and educating their men and women was legendary throughout the ancient world, and it has come down to us even in the present day. The very word “spartan” connotes sparse, spare, lean and other similar adjectival synonyms. That a spartan soldier would fight to the death was a given; that he was happier to die gloriously in battle than to die and old man in his village was well-known. Thus even Pericles was known to quote the Spartans in saying that a good death in battle could wipe out a lifetime of evil deeds. But the Spartans virtue was a sort of corporate virtue, not the individual Achaean virtue or heroism of Achilles or Ajax; Spartans fought as a team. Their methods were legendary; their morality their code.

Finally we have the samurai, who lived by the code of bushido. In this moral code, elaborated on many occasions by learned samurai, the samurai warrior, who was always a learned man fluent in poetry, calligraphy and the arts, as well as the martial arts and the sword, was to consider himself at all times as if he was already dead. This core, bedrock principle of bushido, along with the zen Buddhist principles of “no mind” or “empty mind”, encapsulate bushido’s essential qualities—the clear-minded warrior, ready to strike, unafraid of death because in his mind, he has already died, and thus is already prepared for death. Such an adversary must have been dangerous indeed.

That there are parallels between these three systems with regards to their attitudes towards death and mortality is self-evident from our brief discussion. A longer exegesis would examine all of these systems in greater detail, but this brief review suffices to carry across the general motive and ethical points.

Art Kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

One of my beloved professors from college passed away recently, Professor Samuel P. Huntington, late of Harvard University. He was prolific, having written numerous books and articles, and was famous for his theories of political development. He wrote one of my most important letters of reference to graduate school and we had a good relationship. I liked him, he liked me, and I truly enjoyed the advanced graduate level seminar I took with him my senior year of college.

The paper I wrote for him in the seminar, the one which so impressed him that he wrote me a letter of reference for graduate school, Huntingon later used some of the ideas from in part for his famous paper published in 1993 in Foreign Affairs on the Clash of Civilizations; my original seminar paper had argued that older theories of political development emphasizing secularization as the main engine of modernization were now obsolete in light of the Iranian revolution and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and that new theories were needed to take account of modernizations which utilized traditional and charismatic authorities such as religion and ethnic identities to bind together national feelings.

That paper and that seminar were timely for Huntington; he had just come off the State Department desk that spring from the catastrophe of the botched helicopter rescue in the Carter-Vance State Department as Undersecretary of State, and he was in the mood for reflection on past ideas which no longer seemed to work in the modern revolutionary-terrorist world. Huntington’s long road to his new paradigms began in that seminar room that spring and he had invited comment from all of us on not merely Iran but a number of subjects which were established in the political science pantheon. He was in a rare mood for an established professor; he was actually listening to what his students had to say, which was a rare and precious commodity for an academic long established at Harvard.

Huntington, who had long advocated the secularist and praetorian schools of modernism and political development, slowly developed, articulated and adopted these new views with a vengeance, and as a consequence, his article on the “Clash of Civilizations” became the most cited article in Foreign Affairs since the publication of George F. Kennan’s containment article in 1947. It was the novelty and willingness to ascend new theoretical ground that gave Huntington’s article such oomph.

Huntington’s later followup books and articles were all celebrated by the media and by the academy. What is striking about Huntington’s work (as opposed to mine or anyone else’s) is the thoroughness of the academic references and the depth of research and academic work that went into the new theories. He essentially developed a new paradigm for looking at developmental theory in the Kuhnian sense of that word, and did so in a way that captured the imagination of many scholars and many popular thinkers. This was a substantive achievement, especially coming from someone so closely identified with the Cold War establishment.

But Huntington did not merely throw out a new theory, as so many academics do today in papers; he erected an edifice, complete with substructure, foundation and plenty of academic digging to support what he had built in his article. It was so complete once he showed it to the world, it was readily apparent he had been working on it for more than ten years. It rapidly became his life’s capping achievement.

Huntington’s willingness to change and be flexible with his core beliefs and his core dogmas at such a late date in his academic career marked him as a scholar of the first rank. Most scholars develop one or two ideas when they are young, and then are afraid or unwilling to deviate from them later in life. Huntington was willing to risk all, because he saw that his earlier theories and ideas might be wrong, and went about searching for a new theory, a new paradigm, which would better explain the facts in the world about him.

He was, in a world, an empirical scientist of the first magnitude. Like Galileo and Copernicus, when he saw the data that proved the earth was not the center of the universe, he was unafraid to change his point of view and advance theories in keeping with what he saw and what he heard, instead of repeating theories he had learned or that he had advanced decades earlier which might have applied to different circumstances.

Professor Huntington was of old New England stock and proud of his heritage. His namesake was once President of the United States in Congress Assembled and had presided over the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation prior to the ratification of the United States Constitution during the very earliest years of American Independence. Huntington himself served several Presidents and administrations in various capacities and was noted for his acumen and wisdom.

He was a wonderful Professor, a good man, and I shall miss him. And most of all, he was a brilliant academic and a social scientist of the first order. In every way, and every day, he was a Harvard man. He was very much my notion of what a Harvard Professor should be, and for that reason too, I shall miss him also. It is doubtful that any like he shall pass this way again.

–Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Phillies
Happy New Year 2009


This is Professor Huntington’s official biography from the Harvard College website:

[cite to and cited from]


Samuel P. Huntington is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor. He graduated with distinction from Yale at age 18, served in the Army, and then received his Ph.D. from Harvard and started teaching there when he was 23. He has been a member of Harvard’s Department of Government since 1950 (except for a brief period between 1959 and 1962 when he was associate professor of government at Columbia University). He has served as chairman of the Government Department and of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. His principal interests are: national security, strategy, and civil military relations; democratization and political and economic development of less-developed countries; cultural factors in world politics; and American national identity. During 1977 and 1978 he worked at the White House as coordinator of security planning for the National Security Council. He was a founder and coeditor for seven years of the journal Foreign Policy. His principal books include The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (1957); The Common Defense: Strategic Programs in National Politics (1961); Political Order in Changing Societies (1968); American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony (1981); The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (1991); The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of World Order (1996); and Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity (2004).

The clash between Eagles head coach Andy Reid and his former assistant coach (and now Minnesota Head Coach) and good friend Brad Childress in the playoffs yesterday highlights a new trend in the NFL—the Philadelphia Eagles family of coaches in the NFL. First, there are the Buddy Ryan assistant coaches—Jon Gruden, formerly of Oakland (where he went to the Super Bowl) and now of Tampa Bay (where he also went to the Super Bowl, and narrowly missed the playoffs this year) and Jeff Fischer of Tennessee, the NFL’s longest tenured coach, who is the AFC’s top seeded team this year, a regular playoff contender, and a former Super Bowl coach and AFC champion. Former Eagles head coach and Buddy Ryan assistant coach Ray Rhodes continues to work as an assistant coach in the league. Buddy Ryan’s two sons now are assistant coaches in the league. Second, there are the ex-Eagles—such as Herm Edwards of Kansas City, and former head coach Dick Vermeil, who used to coach at St. Louis, and won a Super Bowl there. Ex-Eagle John Bunting was a college head coach at North Carolina. And then you have the Andy Reid connections–Harbaugh at Baltimore, who used to coach special teams with the Eagles, and all the connections of Reid through Green Bay as well as Philly like Childress at Minnesota and Holmgren in Seattle.

There are probably many more connections to the Eagles that could be found, but it certainly is illuminating how many coaches and assistant coaches in the NFL (and in the college ranks) now have philly ties. And we used to think this was a college hoops town with a lot of college and pro hoops coaches everywhere. Who knew we were a spawning ground for college coaches. Guess it’s a spawning ground of football coaches as well for the NFL.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies
Happy New Year 2009