Why Doomsday arguments are better than simulation arguments

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Inspired by anthropic reasoning behind Doomsday arguments, Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument says: people who think advanced civilisations would run many fully-conscious simulated minds should also think they’re probably simulated minds themselves. However, Bostrom’s conclusions can (and should) be resisted, especially by sympathisers with Doomsday or anthropic reasoning. This paper initially offers a posterior-probabilistic ‘Doomsday lottery’ argument against Bostrom’s conclusions. Suggestions are then offered for deriving anti-simulation conclusions using weaker assumptions. Anti-simulation arguments herein use more (epistemically and metaphysically) robust reference classes than Bostrom’s argument, require no Principles of Indifference, abide better by the total evidence requirement, and yet use empirically plausible priors and likelihoods. However, while Doomsday arguments are probabilistically, epistemically and metaphysically stronger than the Simulation Argument, anthropic reasoning can (and should) refrain from embracing either.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-238
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2017


  • simulation argument
  • Nick Bostrom
  • doomsday argument


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