, Volume 135, Issue 3, pp 415–430 | Cite as

An Empirical Critique of Two Versions of the Doomsday Argument – Gott's Line and Leslie's Wedge

  • E. Sober


I discuss two versions of the doomsday argument. According to ``Gott's Line'',the fact that the human race has existed for 200,000 years licences the predictionthat it will last between 5100 and 7.8 million more years. According to ``Leslie'sWedge'', the fact that I currently exist is evidence that increases the plausibilityof the hypothesis that the human race will come to an end sooner rather than later.Both arguments rest on substantive assumptions about the sampling process thatunderlies our observations. These sampling assumptions have testable consequences,and so the sampling assumptions themselves must be regarded as empirical claims.The result of testing some of these consequences is that both doomsday argumentsare empirically disconfirmed.


Sampling Process Testable Consequence Human Race Empirical Critique Substantive Assumption 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Sober
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonU.S.A

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