[Foundation-l] Licensing transition: opposing points of view

Mike Godwin mnemonic at gmail.com
Sat Mar 21 00:37:09 UTC 2009

On Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 5:15 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>wrote:

> Pascal's Wager involves infinite gain/loss - this is just basic risk
> analysis and has nothing at all to do with Pascal's Wager.

It's true that Pascal's own version of Pascal's Wager involves the risk of
infinite loss, but it's commonly used among modern philosophers (and lawyers
and others) to refer to scenarios regarding small probabilities of very
large losses (since in the real world we humans mostly don't deal with
infinite losses or gains).  If I tell you there's only a 1 percent change of
a 10-trillion-dollar personal loss (for example), the same paralyzing logic
of Pascal's Wager applies, even though 10 trillion dollars isn't an infinite
number of dollars.  (And that's all I'll say here about Pascal's Wager on
this list -- if you want to discuss it privately, I'm happy to continue that
off-topic discussion, since I've been interested in the subject for almost
three decades.)

So I
> think the expected number of problematic cases is significantly less
> than 1, but it certainly isn't 0.

Fortunately for legal risk assessment, there's no need for risks to be zero
in order for them to be judged insignificant.


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