Re: all of me or one of me

From: <>
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 18:36:31 -0800

Wei Dai, <>, writes, regarding whether we should
identify with exact copies of ourselves:
> I think the following thought experiment shows the latter is more
> appropriate. Suppose you are one of two people in a prisoner's dilemma
> type game, where if you push button A both players will get 4 dollars, but
> if you push button B you will get 5 dollars and the other player will get
> nothing. The twist is that both players are given temporary amnesia and
> are put into identical rooms so you don't know what your identity is.
> If you identify with both players, then you should press A. However I
> think most people under the circumstances will press B.

This is similar to the question of "super-rationality" discussed by
Douglas Hofstadter in his Scientific American column in the 1980s.
He set up a similar thought experiment and he found that most people he
asked would in fact push B.

However in his case he simply had everyone be in roughly the same
situation, that is, they had their individual personalities intact
but they were presented identical scenarios, and they knew that each
person was presented an identical scenario.

Wei sharpens the situation so that the players have temporary amnesia
and don't remember who they are. This would make it more plausible that
each would do the same thing. But still they might have different
personalities, tendencies, reasoning abilities, etc.

Wouldn't the situation most relevant to the question of identity be one
where the two people in the room are both copies of you? Where you can
know that each would do exactly the same thing?

If you knew that each would do the same thing, I think you would push A.
As I recall, if Hofstadter set up different scenarios to try to get
people to push A. The other fellow is your identical twin, etc. When he
finally got to where the "other player" was just the player in a mirror,
then finally people would push A. With two instances of the same person,
I think it would be as certain as myself in the mirror.

Received on Thu Apr 01 1999 - 18:47:20 PST

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