The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction

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Overview

Are we in imminent danger of extinction? Yes, we probably are, argues John Leslie in his chilling account of the dangers facing the human race as we approach the second millenium.
The End of the World is a sobering assessment of the many disasters that scientists have predicted and speculated on as leading to apocalypse. In the first comprehensive survey, potential catastrophes - ranging from deadly diseases to high-energy physics experiments - are explored to help us understand the risks.
One of the greatest threats facing humankind, however, is the insurmountable fact that we are a relatively young species, a risk which is at the heart of the 'Doomsday Argument'. This argument, if correct, makes the dangers we face more serious than we could have ever imagined. This more than anything makes the arrogance and ignorance of politicians, and indeed philosophers, so disturbing as they continue to ignore the manifest dangers facing future generations.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Will the human race become extinct fairly shortly? Have the dangers been underestimated, and ought we to care? In seeking to answer these questions, Leslie (Universes, Routledge, 1990) examines many "doom soon" scenarios but specifically centers on mathematician Brandon Carter's "Doomsday Argument," which applies bayesian reasoning to the idea that the risk of human extinction has usually been underestimated. Leslie has built on Carter's Doomsday Argument, stating that it doesn't generate risk estimates but is rather an "argument for revising the...estimates that we generate when we consider various possible dangers." Even so, Leslie estimates that the entire human race has a 30 percent chance of annihilation by nuclear war, disease, or some other means in the next 500 years. This intriguing work may be of interest to philosophers, population studies scholars, biologists, and human ecologists and is recommended for academic libraries.-Susan Maret, Auraria Lib., Univ. of Colorado, Denver
Booknews
Leslie (philosophy, U. of Guelph) argues for the high likelihood of human extinction in the relatively near future. To this end he discusses the real threats to human existence, be they man-made or natural disasters. However, Leslie places much of the weight of his account on the so- called Doomsday Argument advanced by fellow philosopher Brandon Carter, who simply contends that it is highly unlikely that we should happen to find ourselves among the earliest humans who have ever existed. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Mark Greenberg
...[T]he most interesting questions The End of the World raises....concern our susceptibility...to a kind of cognitive illusion....Intuition and probability collide openly when Leslie glimpses the problems and attempts to repair the damage....Our being alive now does not increase the probability of our imminent extinction, and this is no surprise.
London Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415184472
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Lexile: 1440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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