[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 07:01:31 UTC 2007

On 25/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Stathis writes
> > If I forget everything about my past, too bad for my past
> > self (who is now effectively dead) and too bad about the
> > inconvenience, but from this point on, I am forging a new life
> > for the new me.
> Whereas I regard such catastropic amnesia as equivalent to
> dying.  The "new me" that you refer to I regard as a different
> person almost one-hundred percent.

I agree that total memory loss is death and the "new me" is a
different person, so I certainly wouldn't want it to happen to me in
future. However, if it has already happened, then I as the new person
have nothing to worry about. It's like assuming I am the reincarnation
of a dead person, with none of that person's memories (which is what
makes reincarnation logically as well as empirically suspect).

> > If, on the other had, I was forewarned that
> > I would lose all memory of the next 24 hours, I would feel that in a
> > sense the person I was *now* has only 24 hours to live.
> Then under midazolam, provided that you overcome the psychological
> effects you mentioned, you ought to be similarly apprehensive about
> going to sleep (the normal time at which the patient goes
> back to being normal, as I undersand it).  Same thing, I would think.

Yes, that's right: I ought to be apprehensive. Thinking about this as
I have I guess I would be a little more apprehensive than the average
patient, but not as apprehensive as if I were going to be executed.
This is inconsistent if the main reason I have for fearing death/
quasi-death is the inability to anticipate future experiences.

> And that brings up an obvious scenario:  what if I could choose
> between (A) getting to live only one more year and then dying,
> or (B) getting to live five more years, but at the cost of actual
> past experience (once again, our complicated thought experiments
> that enable one to decide whether or not things that I think happened
> to me really happened or I merely got the memories of them), as
> in my http://www.leecorbin.com/UseOfNewcombsParadox.html
> > One way you could justify this is by saying that past runtime can't be
> > "lost", so you need only focus on the future if your ultimate strategy
> > is to maximise total runtime.
> Oh, yes.  Right.
> > However, in my bombing scenario that isn't so: you could as easily
> > lose the past as the future,
> yes
> > and in either case the total loss of runtime would be the same.
> > Would you therefore say it is no worse to lose
> > the next decade as the last decade to the bombers?
> In principle, Yes.  In practice, I'd have to guess whether I got
> more benefit out of the last decade, or am more likely to gain
> greater benefit out of the next.  To me, the logic of all this
> forces me to come to this conclusion, and I don't find it totally
> non-intuitive or inconceivable.

You would have to conclude this if you are to consistently tackle the
anticipation problem. Unfortunately, I can no more go this far than I
can go to the other consistent position, which is to say that even
total, permanent death doesn't matter. So I am for now stuck with
being inconsistent despite seeing intellectually that this is the

Stathis Papaioannou

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