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

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2005 22:18:04 +1000

Jonathan Colvin writes:

>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
>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.

Yes, this is exactly my position, except that I'm not sure I would
necessarily care more about what happens to my copy than to a stranger.
After all, he knows all my secrets, my bank account details, my passwords...
it's not difficult to see how we might become bitter enemies.

The situation is different when I am considering my copies in the future. If
I know that tomorrow I will split into two copies, one of whom will be
tortured, I am worried, because that means there is 1/2 chance that I will
"become" the torture victim. When tomorrow comes and I am not the torture
victim, I am relieved, because now I can feel sorry for my suffering copy as
I might feel sorry for a stranger. You could argue that there is an
inconsistency here: today I identify with the tortured copy, tomorrow I
don't. But whether it is inconsistent or irrational is beside the point:
this is how our minds actually work. Every amputee who experiences phantom
limb pain is aware that they are being "irrational" because there is no limb
there in reality, but knowing this does not make the pain go away.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Wed Jun 08 2005 - 08:29:36 PDT

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