Re: [Fwd: NDPR David Shoemaker, Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction]

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 16:08:10 +0100

On 24 Feb 2009, at 13:22, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> 2009/2/24 Bruno Marchal <>:
>>>> From a logical point of view Shoemaker is right. You can say "no"
>>>> for
>>>> many reasons to the doctor.
>>>> The copy will not even behave as you.
>>>> The copy will behave like you, but is a phi-zombie.
>>>> The copy behaves like you and as a soul/personality/consciousness,
>>>> but
>>>> yet is not you (and you are dead)
>>> This last is the problematic one. If it is valid, then it is also
>>> valid to say that I only live for a moment and continuity of
>>> identity
>>> is only an illusion.
>> I don't think so. Unless you assume comp, but then to say the copy is
>> not you has no meaning at all.
>> This last is not really problematic, it is just equivalent with the
>> negation of comp.
>> It is brought by non-comp-people who, on the contrary insist a notion
>> of continuity which is broken by digital substitution.
>> For a computationalist, the "continuity" is given by the comp
>> history,
>> and is not broken by teleportation and the like, not even self-
>> differentiation through self-duplication.
> As I see it, to say that the copy has all your important mental
> qualities but still isn't you because it lacks your soul - the
> significant thing about the soul here being that it is something over
> and above mental qualities - is equivalent to saying you assume comp,
> but the copy still isn't you.

If you assume comp, I would say the copy is "you", and got your
"soul", by definition.
Those who argue that the copy has all your mental attributes but is
not you are in general arguing against comp.
Sometimes they say that (classical) teleportation will just kill them,
and that the copy is an impostor.
They argue that, would the "original" not have been destroyed, by
continuity (or by Nozick closer continuation criteria for personal
identity) they would have seen the copy being "another people", and so
retrospectively, they think that when the original is destroyed they
just die, even if they agree that the copy will believe that she has

>>> Actually, I have no objection to this way of
>>> speaking, but we would then just have to say that this illusion of
>>> continuity is just as good as what we hitherto thought was real
>>> continuity.
>> I think we agree. Just note that when I don't write "assuming comp" I
>> consider also the case when comp is false. Perhaps I shouldn't.
>>>> The copy is you (in Parfit sense: that it is as better than you).
>>>> And,
>>>> the copy can be you in deeper and deeper senses (roughly speaking
>>>> up
>>>> to the unspeakable "you = ONE").
>>>> I talk here on the first person "you". It is infinite and
>>>> unnameable.
>>>> Here computer science can makes those term (like "unnameable") much
>>>> more precise.
>>> I don't see how the copy could be me in a deeper sense than having
>>> all
>>> my thoughts, memories etc. It would be like saying that if I wave my
>>> magic wand over you you will become specially blessed, even though
>>> nothing will actually change either subjectively or objectively.
>> The copy could be you in the deeper sense that it could be you even
>> in
>> the case where he loses some memory, all memories, or in case he got
>> new memories, including false souvenirs. But then it is like in the
>> movie "the prestige", your brother can be you. This path leads to the
>> idea that we are already all the same person. It is "not being the
>> other" which is an illusion in that case. I don't insist on this
>> because we don't need to see that arithmetic is the theory of
>> everything (and that physics comes from there). But it is needed for
>> the "other hypostases" and the whole theological point.
> I still don't understand your point. Assume that the copy is
> arbitrarily close to the original me

OK, but this is not the case in the quote. You are back on the case
where the copy has the same mental attributes (memory, ...). In this
case I agree with you, when we assume comp.

> in every mental quality: is there
> still some sense in which it might not really be me?

Yes, by assuming that comp is false. See my answer above, relating an
argument against comp, or against the use of teleportation.

> If you can come
> up with an answer, then it could equally well be applied to walking
> across the room, which none of us do worrying that we won't survive
> the experience.

I agree with you, and that is why I find comp very natural. But we
cannot prove that comp is right. The argument above (against comp)
show that the negation of comp is consistent, even if it seems poorly

Sorry for confusing things by taking into account non-computationalist
theory of mind.


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Received on Tue Feb 24 2009 - 10:08:34 PST

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