RE: Many Pasts? Not according to QM...

From: Lee Corbin <>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 23:21:09 -0700

Stathis wrote

> > I got here this way: to be consistent,
> > I must use all my knowledge
> > to arrive at a class of events and
> > processes that I approve of, and
> > classes that I disapprove of. I
> > decided that it was bad for me to
> > suffer. Then since by physics, I
> > seem to be any sufficiently similar
> > physical process, it is bad for
> > any of them to suffer. (That one of
> > me ends up being prejudiced as regards
> > his own special skin seems to be an
> > unfortunate legacy of evolution, but
> > one that doesn't support much consistency.)
> You're looking for sense and consistency where there
> isn't any. My moment of enlightenment was when I
> realised the whole thing is a crazy mess. But I can
> no more ignore the effects of the crazy mess on
> my psychological processes than I can command my body
> to grow an extra head.


> But come the future, I don't really care what happens
> to my duplicates, because I can only be one person at
> once (that isn't really consistent, but I can't shake
> that feeling either).

Well, you probably still *feel* that the Earth is flat
as you walk around on it; but you *know* better.
You *could* adopt the point of view I espouse in my
first paragraph, above, and then it wouldn't be an
inconsistent mess, would it?

> [It's] a matter of definition. What if tomorrow
> all my memories are replaced with different memories,
> perhaps those of a made up person?

Well, it would *definitely* be someone else, not you!
It simply definitely true that if your body woke
tomorrow with all Bush's memories, and yours were
expunged from the Earth, then you'd be dead (here).

> of the bricks have been replaced. Is it
> the same building or a different
> one? Philosophers could scratch their
> heads and write papers in the learned
> journals for years to come debating this.

Yes, the good old Ship of Theseus. IN the ship case
we know all the facts; the problem is which one we
want to call the "real" Ship of Theseus. As for me,
both are the Ship of Theseus in this way or that.

> We are getting to the heart of the disagreement
> here. There is *no* correct answer! You could
> probably come up with a definition to cover all
> eventualities, but even if it actually did this
> consistently (which I think would be very, very
> difficult), in the final analysis, it would have
> to be an arbitrary one.

Well, yes, it would be arbitrary to say whether
or not you are the same person you were ten years
ago. Or at age 10. But there *are* important
FACTS OF THE MATTER, in my opinion. One fact of
the matter is that you are the same person you
were yesterday, and will be tomorrow. It's perfectly
clear that what is up for grabs is the *degree* to
which one is an earlier or a later version.

>From the viewpoint of physics, your duplicate across
the room created a moment ago much more vastly
resembles you than the "you" of a month ago. Since
you are the same person that you were a month ago,
then it follows that you are the same person as
your duplicate across the room. That it doesn't
*seem* that you are the same person is just one of
those things (like MWI itself) that physics is
trying to tell us and that we have to just get used to.

> > Well, I take as more inescapable the assertion
> > that I am the same person I was yesterday, and
> > will be the same person tomorrow. Further,
> > physics seems to grab me by the throat and FORCE
> > me to accept that my duplicate across the room
> > and I don't differ significantly.
> Do you mean duplicate as in identical twin?

Not quite! It turns out that everyone who knows them
regards identical twins as different persons. And so
regards them, I am pretty certain as different people
in a way that they were *NOT* so regard you and your
duplicate. You and your duplicate---created yesterday,
say---would be SO SIMILAR I claim, that people would
regard you as the same person. It seems that identical
twins always do have slightly different personalities,
and that a lot of the differences they exhibit were
created during the nine months before birth.

> > Of course, if you can't affect it,
> > that's a reason for non-concern.
> > But if you could, then, I contend,
> > one intervenes to prevent one's
> > duplicate from suffering for
> > entirely *selfish* reasons.
> How do I stop my duplicate from suffering
> in another universe?

Okay, you can't. But you might be able to
save your duplicate across the room several
hours' torture at the cost of a few minutes
torture to your local version, and you should
sign up for that. You should continue to
sign up for that so long as you have the

Received on Tue Jun 07 2005 - 02:20:29 PDT

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