IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Petersburg Paradox at 300

  • Seidl, Christian

In 1713 Nicolas Bernoulli sent to de Montmort several mathematical problems, the fifth of which was at odds with the then prevailing belief that the advantage of games of hazard follows from their expected value. In spite of the infinite expected value of this game, no gambler would venture a major stake in this game. In this year, de Montmort published this problem in his Essay d'analyse sur les jeux de hazard. By dint of this book the problem became known to the mathematics profession and elicited solution proposals by Gabriel Cramer, Daniel Bernoulli (after whom it became known as the Petersburg Paradox), and Georges de Buffon. Karl Menger was the first to discover that bounded utility is a necessary and sufficient condition to warrant a finite expected value of the Petersburg Paradox. It was, in particular, Menger's article which provided an important cue for the development of expected utility by von Neumann and Morgenstern. The present paper gives a concise account of the origin of the Petersburg Paradox and its solution proposals. In its third section, it provides a rigorous analysis of the Petersburg Paradox from the uniform methodological vantage point of d'Alembert's ratio text. Moreover, it is shown that appropriate mappings of the winnings or of the probabilities can solve or regain a Petersburg Paradox, where the use of probabilities seems to have been overlooked by the profession.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Papers with number 2012-10.

in new window

Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:cauewp:201210
Contact details of provider: Postal: D-24098 Kiel,Wilhelm-Seelig-Platz 1
Phone: 0431-880 3282
Fax: 0431-880 3150
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Tibor Neugebauer, 2010. "Moral Impossibility in the Petersburg Paradox : A Literature Survey and Experimental Evidence," LSF Research Working Paper Series 10-14, Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:cauewp:201210. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.