John A. Leslie

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For other individuals named "John Leslie", see John Leslie (disambiguation).
John Leslie
Born (1940-08-02) August 2, 1940 (age 76)
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of mind

John Andrew Leslie[pronunciation?] (born August 2, 1940) is a Canadian philosopher. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, earning his B.A. in English Literature in 1962 and his M.Litt. in Classics in 1968. He is currently Professor emeritus at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.

In his book Universes, Leslie describes a philosophical parable in which an individual survives a firing squad of fifty expert marksmen unscathed. He offers two explanations for this remarkable event: either it is a fortuitous outcome, to be expected occasionally by pure chance among many thousands of attempted executions by firing squad; or it is intentional. Francis Collins references this parable in his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief as part of his argument that the Anthropic Principle strongly suggests a Creator with intent.

Leslie has spoken as follows about his life's work:

What I have to contribute is some technical defense of the idea that if you had an infinitely rich [universe], it could be explained by reference to its value. Its goodness could be the creative force which had produced it. I think if I would like to be remembered as a philosopher for any one thing, that would be the thing I'd most like to be remembered for.


  • 1979. Value and Existence
  • 1989. Universes
  • 1990. Physical Cosmology and Philosophy
  • 1996. The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction.
  • 1998. Modern Cosmology and Philosophy
  • 2001. Infinite Minds: A Philosophical Cosmology
  • 2007. Immortality Defended
  • 2013. The Mystery of Existence: Why is there Anything At All?

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