[extropy-chat] Personal Identity Bis

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Apr 11 03:41:32 UTC 2007

On 4/11/07, Heartland <velvethum at hotmail.com> wrote:

There are two extreme views regarding survival being represented on this
> list.
> There is my "life is an instance" view and Jef Albright's "agency" view
> which is
> nothing more than "life is a type" view extrapolated to its logical
> conclusion.
> IMO, only these two positions are logically consistent, yet mutually
> exclusive and
> impossible to reconcile. It's quite apparent that you fall somewhere in
> between,
> meaning that, to some extent, you've adopted both positions. Even though
> you
> acknowledge that a copy containing your memories would be you, you still
> see a
> problem with this if the original brain was "revealed to not have been
> destroyed at
> all." Either there can be at most one "the same" person or many "same"
> persons.
> Either life is essentially an instance or a type. Either life is a process
> or just
> data. One excludes the other and you can't have it both ways. Unless you
> commit to
> either Jef's view or mine, you are guaranteed to be puzzled by certain
> scenarios
> about personal identity. From what I've seen you're probably much closer
> to my
> position then you realize.

Your "life is an instance" view comes up against serious problems when you
look at personal identity at anything other than than the most superficial,
familiar level. For example, if it were revealed to you that yesterday,
advanced aliens caused you to disintegrate and be replaced with a
functionally identical copy once every second, you would presumably be
outraged, and accuse the aliens of committing murder 86,400 times. But here
you are today, and what have you lost? Neither you nor anyone who knows you
noticed anything unusual happening yesterday, and today you feel just the
same as you have always felt. For all you know, the aliens might still be at
it, and they might have been at it for thousands of years with every living
creature on the planet. What is the point in calling it murder if it can't
make any possible difference?

Stathis Papaioannou

Stathis Papaioannou
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