Journal of Philosophy

The Doomsday Argument Revisited (a Stop in the Shooting-Room Included)


Ruth Weintraub, Tel-Aviv University


Abstract. Leslie’s doomsday argument purports to show that the likelihood of the human race perishing soon is greater than we think. The probability we attach to it, based on our estimate of the chance of various calamities which might bring extinction about (a nuclear holocaust, an ecological disaster, etc.), should be adjusted as follows. If the human race were to survive for a long time, we, living now, would be atypical. So our living now increases the probability that the human race will end shortly.

In this paper, I criticize some attempts to rebut the argument, and present my own. To facilitate the analysis, I consider a structurally similar problem, the “Shooting Room.” Back