[extropy-chat] Personal Identity Bis

Heartland velvethum at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 11 06:18:54 UTC 2007

> 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?

You are correct that every copy of Heartland's type would accuse aliens of mass 
murder. However, the error you're making in describing my position is that you're 
using "you" for every copy. In my view, all 86401 *instances* are separate people 
who only happen to share the same *type* of mind. The fact that they all share the 
same type of mind says nothing about whether all these instances are the same 
person. The "serious problem" or inconsistency you point to vanishes once I start 
referring to first Heartland as Heartland1 and the last as Heartland86401. So no, 
Heartland86401 is not the Heartland1 today. And what would Heartland1 lose? Well, 
he would lose his life.

You think of "you" as a type while I think of "you" as an instance, that's all.

> 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?

Just because nobody could prove murder happened doesn't imply murder didn't happen. 
It happened. It's just that we can't prove it.

The difference is huge. Heartland1-Heartland86400 have all lost the ability to 
experience life. They're as dead as, say, John Lennon.


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