Re: Are we simulated by some massive computer?

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 13:55:59 +1000

On 26 April 2004 Kory Heath wrote:

>I am definitely not claiming that only one of the copies is the "real me".
>Every copy is the "real me" from its own perspective. But to each one of
>those copies, all the other copies are *different people*. This is true
>from any perspective, including the third-person one.

I didn't mean to suggest that you actually believe only one of the copies
can be the "real" you, but rather that the way we use language forces us
into this way of thinking, as you aknowledge.

>You know, I have a horrible feeling that this subject has been argued to
>death 1000 times already on various newsgroups - with 1000 people taking
>your position, and 1000 people taking mine.

Yes, you're right about this, which is why I was shying away from explicitly
addressing "the problem of personal identity". But since you brought it up
(and Saibal Mitra in another recent post also addresses this question), I
think that the only position which does not lead to confusion and paradox is
to say that there is no such thing as personal identity in the way we
normally use the term, i.e., as a special quality different to mere
similarity between two putatively identical individuals. This is an
extension of neo-Lockean theory expounded, for example, by Derek Parfit in
his 1984 book "Reasons and Persons". It is equivalent to saying that we
effectively die every moment, to be replaced by near-replicas who share our
memories, and usually (but not necessarily) our bodies. We entertain the
fiction of continuity of identity because that is how our minds have
evolved: an organism would not get very far if it had no concern for what
was going to happen to it in the next millisecond because that would be
someone else's problem. The fact that it IS a fiction would be immediately
evident if we could meet our past and future selves, and if mind/body
duplication with or without teleportion were a common event. With this
position, it would be obvious that questions about whether the copy "really
is you" are meaningless. The copy has most of your memories and thinks he is
you; what else can you say beyond this?

>Ok, one last stab. You are going to be copied and teleported to 1000
>different planets. Only your body and your brain will be copied. On 999 of
>these planets, everyone speaks Spanish, and on one planet, everyone speaks
>French. You don't know either language, and you are only allowed to learn
>one of them before your departure. From my perspective, learning Spanish is
>the correct choice. From your perspective, there's no reason to chose one
>over the other. Is there?
>-- Kory

I would learn Spanish before teleportation, in order to give my descendants
the best chance of success; but going on what I said above, I shouldn't care
at all, because I'll be dead and someone else (or 1000 others) will take my

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Mon Apr 26 2004 - 23:59:40 PDT

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