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

From: Jonathan Colvin <>
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005 22:20:12 -0700

>>Not quite! It turns out that everyone who knows them regards
>>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.
>It seems that we are just defining the term "me" differently.
>My definition is that if you stick a pin in a person and I
>feel it, then that person is me. If you stick a pin in the guy
>across the room who looks, talks, behaves etc. like me, *I*
>don't feel anything. Isn't this a rather basic, scientifically
>verifiable difference?
>You may also have something different in mind to me when using
>the term "selfish". In evolutionary biology, animals sometimes
>engage in apparently self-sacrificing behaviour to help their
>kin, but in reality the behaviour is "selfish", because in so
>acting the animal is propagating its own genes (which is
>basically all nature cares about). In this sense, you could
>argue that we should behave altruistically towards those who
>share our genes, and call this "selfish". I don't accept this,
>generally, as an argument: just because it is nature's way
>doesn't mean it is right. But even if i did accept it, it
>*still* isn't the same when my copy gets stuck with a pin as
>when I get stuck with a pin. I might feel guilty about it, but
>I would prefer that he get stuck ten times rather than that I
>get stuck once.

That raises an interesting question. *Should* we (whether reasoned on an
ethical basis or a purely selfish one) care more about a copy of ourselves
getting hurt than a complete stranger?

I have little doubt that I *would* rather a stranger get stuck than my copy,
but only, I think, because I would have more empathy for my copy than for a
stranger, in the same way that I would have more empathy for my mother
getting stuck than I would for someone I don't know.

Beyond the empathetic rationale, I don't see any convincing argument for
favoring the copy over a stranger. The copy is not, after all, *me*
(although it once was). We ceased being the same person the moment we were
copied and started diverging.

Jonathan Colvin
Received on Wed Jun 08 2005 - 01:26:39 PDT

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