[ExI] What can be said to be "wrong", and what is "Truth"

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Tue Oct 14 00:23:24 UTC 2008

On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 4:59 PM, Bryan Bishop <kanzure at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Monday 13 October 2008, Lee Corbin wrote:
>> I believe that my concept of personal identity is as real as the
>> concept of "species". For example, it's silly to deny that elephants
>> exist as a separate species, or that my car exists as a real assembly
>> of components, and so on. You may disagree with me, but to
>> suggest that I have some sort of death-grip on these concepts
>> is not correct: I believe in one's personal identity to the same
>> degree as I believe in elephants, and *all* knowledge is conjectural.
> I'd like to throw at you that elephants are different than your identity
> because of the very practical consequence of mating an elephant and a
> nonelephant. When you get down to it, they don't mate, and thus aren't
> the same species. More specifically either mating doesn't lead to
> conception, or the resultant embryo fails to successfully mate usually
> through genetic abnormalities leading to death and such. This is
> a "field test" use of that 'elephants' classification .. a test
> for 'living' is hard as well, but it's much more along than any
> equivalent for identity, which is necessarily subjective within the
> assumptions of our discussions so far.

Gasp!  Do you suggest that we know elephants not for what they *are*,
but rather, based on *observations* of them with respect to
correspondence to a class of entity?

Could it be then, that personal identity is in fact the same kind of
thing; based not on physically/functionally similarity, but in terms
of perceived agency acting on behalf of a given entity?

But, but, that would imply that two exact physical/functional
duplicates, diverging by only a few minutes but already in deep
conflict over ownership of possessions or liability for acts, would be
considered separate persons!  Or conversely that two agents, robots
highly specialized for specific tasks, but acting solely and
completely on behalf of a particular human entity, would be considered
mere extensions of that person!

Makes sense to me...

- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list