[ExI] Next moment, everything around you will probably change

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Jun 17 22:33:51 UTC 2007

TheMan has written

> If you make an exact copy P2 of a person P1, and kill
> P1 at the same time, the person P1 will continue
> his/her life as P2, right?

Bear in mind that nothing "flows" or moves from the
location of P1 to P2.  It's not as if a spirit or awareness
that was formerly at the location of P1 has now moved
on to the location P2.

Everything that is *now* true---after P1's demise---
was just as true before P1's death.  That is, to the extent
that P1 "continues" in P2's location, well, he was already
"continuing" there before he snuffed out.

However, you are entirely correct IMO:  namely, if you
have a copy running somewhere, then you are already
"there".  In short, one person may execute in two locations
at the same time.  Would it be easier to think of a computer
program?  Can you imagine the hubris, arrogance, and sheer
ignorance of a computer program that announced "No copy
of me is really me.  I am executing in only one location."  Well,
it's the same with us!

> And P2 doesn't have to be exactly like P1, right?
> Because even within our lives today, we change from
> moment to moment.


> So as long as the difference between
> P1 and P2 is not bigger than the biggest occurring
> difference between two moments after each other in any
> person's life today (i.e. the biggest such difference
> that still doesn't break that person's personhood
> continuity), P1 will still go on living as P2 after
> P1:s death, right?

"Personal continuity" is a mistaken notion.  Aren't you
the same person you were before last month?  And so what
would change if miraculously last month really had never
happened, your molecules just happened to assume their
current configuration?  It would not diminish your identity
an iota.  Continuity is a red-herring.

> But then, obviously, there are differences that are
> too big. If P2 rather than resembling P1 resembles
> P1:s mother-in-law, and no other copy is made of P1
> anywhere when P1 is killed, P1 will just cease to have
> any experiences - until a sufficiently similar copy of
> P1 is made in the future.


> Now suppose P2 is a little different from P1, but
> still so similar that it allows for personhood
> continuity of P1 when P1 is killed. Suppose a more
> perfect copy of P1, let's call him P3, is created at
> the same time as P2 is created and P1 killed. Then, I
> suppose, P1, when killed, will go on living as P3, and
> not as P2. Is that correct?

No, that is incorrect  :-)     The sublime perfection of P3
doesn't diminish the fact that P2 is still the same person
as P1.  Suppose I am P2.  I am different from who I was
yesterday (P1) because you sent some thugs to my house
last night and they roughed me up for an hour. I still have
the bruises, but I am still the same person that I was 

Now it is revealed that just before the thugs arrived, a
perfect copy of me was created in Hawaii.  This Hawaiian
version was not injured last night, instead sleeping sounding
the entire time.  This Hawaiian version, P3, is a more perfect
replica of P1 than I am.  But does this change what is true
about me?  Of course not.  I am still the same person I was.

I believe that the rest of your post illustrates one way of
coming to the truth:  namely, you are the same person
however many concurrent copies of you there are, and
the same person inhabits all those copies.  To the degree
that some have become quite different---or have been
forced to become quite different---is exactly the extent
to which each one no longer resembles you.  Logically
it's quite simple. But it does take some time to get used


> But what if P1 isn't killed at the time P2 and P3 are
> created, but instead goes through an experience that,
> from one moment M1 to the next moment M2, changes him
> quite a bit (but not so much that it could normally
> break a person's personhood continuity). Suppose the
> difference between [P1 at M1] and [P1 at M2] is a
> little bit bigger than the difference between [P1 at
> M1] and [P3 at M2].
> Will in that case P1 (the one that is P1 at M1)
> continue his personhood as P3 in M2, instead of going
> on being P1 in M2?
> He cannot do both. You can only have one personhood at
> any given moment. I suppose P1 (the one who is P1 at
> M1) may find himself being P3 in M2, just as well as
> he may go on being P1 in M2 (but that he can only do
> either).
> If so, that would mean that you would stand in a room
> and if a perfect copy of you would be created in
> another room, you could just as well find yourself
> suddenly living in that other room as that copy, as
> you could go on living in the first room. Is that
> correct?
> Suppose it is. Then consider this. The fact that the
> universe is infinite must mean that in any given
> moment, there must be an infinite number of human
> beings that are exactly like you.
> But most of these exact copies of you probably don't
> live in the same kind of environment that you live in.
> That would be extremely inlikely, wouldn't it? It
> probably looks very different on their planets, in
> most cases. 
> So how come you are not, at almost all of your moments
> today, being thrown around from environment to
> environment, from planet to planet, from galaxy to
> galaxy? The personhood continuity of you sitting in
> the same chair, in the same room, on the same planet,
> for several moments in a row, must be an extremely
> small fraction of the number of personhood
> continuities of exact copies of you that exist in
> universe, right? An overwhelming majority of these
> personhood continuities shouldn't have any
> environmental continuity at all from moment to moment.
> So how come you have such great environmental
> continuity from moment to moment?
> Is the answer that an infinite number of persons still
> must have that kind of life, and that one of those
> persons may as well be you?
> In that case, it still doesn't mean that it is
> rational to assume that we will continue having the
> same environment in the next moment, and the next,
> etc. It still doesn't justify the belief that we will
> still live on the same planet tomorrow. Just because
> we have had an incredibly unchanging environment so
> far, doesn't mean that we will in the coming moments.
> The normal thing should be to be through around from
> place to place in universe at every new moment,
> shouln't it?
> So, most likely, at every new moment from the very
> next moment and on, our environments should be
> constantly and completely changing.
> Or do I make a logical mistake somewhere?
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