RE: Dualism and the DA

From: Jonathan Colvin <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2005 18:01:40 -0700

Quentin wrote:

>> Switch the question. Why aren't you me (Jonathan Colvin)? I'm
>> conscious (feels like I am, anyway).

>I think you do not see the real question, which can be
>formulated (using your
>analogy) by :
>Why (me as) Russell Standish is Russell Standish rather
>Jonathan Colvin ? I (as RS) could have been you (JC)... but
>it's a fact that I'm not, but the question is why I'm not, why
>am I me rather than you ? What "force" decide for me to be me ? :)

My argument is that this is a meaningless question. In what way could you
(as RS) have been me (as JC)? Suppose you were. How would the universe be
any different than it is right now? This question is analogous to asking
"Why is 2 not 3?". "Why is this tree not that telescope?". "Why is my aunt
not a wagon?".

The only way I can make sense of a question like this is to adopt a
dualistic position. In this case, the question makes good sense: "me" (my
soul, consciousness, whatever), might not have been in my body; it might
have been in someone else's.

It is easy to forget, I think, that the SSA is a *reasoning principle*, not
an ontological statement. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we
should reason *as if* we are a random sample from the set of all observers
in our reference class. This is NOT the same as an ontological statement to
the effect that we *are* random observers, which seems hard to justify
unless we assume a species of dualism.

Jonathan Colvin
Received on Thu Jun 16 2005 - 21:02:41 PDT

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