[extropy-chat] Personal Identity, a Personal Choice?

Ian Goddard iamgoddard at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 18 17:14:42 UTC 2007

Before exploring the subject-heading theme, let me
respond to an important point Randall raises:

Randall Randall wrote:

>>> Taken literally, the statement "two systems are 
>>> indistinguishable" is a logical contradiction.
>> Physics doesn't care a fig about what a monkey 
>> thinks is a contradiction.
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identical_particles
> It seems obvious that this doesn't apply to complex
> macroscopic objects like DVDs and people, any more 
> than the fact that electrons have no "wet" property
> can be applied to a bucket of water.  There are a 
> lot of firm statements I'm willing to make about a 
> cup of coffee on my desk that I freely admit don't 
> apply to the particles that make up the coffee.  
> Nor do I think that this means the coffee is 
> somehow not wet, or the cup is somehow not green.

 Exactly! Well said! Quantum-physics phenomena that
violate classical logic are considered to be confined
to subatomic and atomic scales. Is there a quantum
physicist who suggests that quantum logic (QL) [1]
should be assumed to be applicable on macroscopic
scales because it is applicable on subatomic scales?
Otherwise, classical logic with Leibniz's Identity of
Indiscernibles provides an effective identity rule (or
at least starting point) for the macroscopic-scale
questions at hand. [2]

 But perhaps over & above those considerations...

 What strikes me these days is a view pointed to by at
least one critic of my past efforts to derive
ontological conclusions from a purported holistic
nature of identity, which is that any logical rule we
may have to define 'identity' is merely an algorithm
applied by a computational unit like a person to
govern the application of names to, and categorization
of, observed phenomena. In other words, 'identity' is
all in our heads, it's a mental fabrication governed
by some construction algorithm and different people
may execute different identity algorithms. But a
category error arises when we assume that an identity
rule reveals ontic truth.

 That view might explain the never-ending nature of
debates about copies of selves by proposing that the
'right theory' of personal identity is ultimately a
matter of personal choice because 'identity' per se is
a matter of personal construction. As such, the only
logical criterion for which indentity rule is the best
is which one, when applied, best meets the needs of a
given user or set of users. ~Ian


"A proposition is a model of reality as we imagine
it." Wittgenstein

[1] QL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-quantlog/


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