RE: A calculus of personal identity

From: Lee Corbin <>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 18:45:51 -0700

Stathis writes

> Lee Corbin writes:
> > Well, people here are prepared to accept that at each
> > moment the universe splits into innumerable copies,
> > that physics is governed by equations that Feynman
> > (erroneously IMO) says nobody can understand, and
> > our lives are not as they appear, but are composed
> > of ensembles of observer moments.

> Actually, my personal view is that *none* of my copies
> are me, whether in the future, the past, in a parallel
> universe or coming out of a teleporter in this universe.

Of course, you realize the cost to our communication the
taking of this stance entails. I do know what you mean;
in fact, 40 years ago exactly, when I first got obsessed
by all this and wondered which duplicate I would be, my
final answer (for a while) was "You will be both and neither."
By saying that I would be neither, in effect I was subscribing
to the view you espouse here.

> I believe the first person singular pronoun can only be
> used consistently when referring to a single observer
> moment, and that it is misunderstanding this which leads
> to the so-called paradoxes of personal identity.

Indeed---there is a problem with consistency. Yet what is
this Lee Corbin to take of your sentence right here? What
do you mean by "I"? Surely you mean the Stathis collection
over, say, a few weeks or a few months taken over the
multiverse, Tegmark universes, and a huge *set* of observer
moments. Does it really make sense to speak of an observer
moment believing anything?

> Without going into arguments about the merits of this view,
> given that I honestly believe it, how should I behave?

Yes! The key point! After all the philosophic BS & endless
verbiage, THAT IS THE KEY POINT. What *actions* should we
take in various scenarios.

> I can get into an aeroplane trusting that it will not
> plummet like a stone or fall off the edge of the world,
> but I can't accept at the visceral level, despite what
> I know intellectually, that the person waking up in my
> bed tomorrow won't be me.

Is this a duplication scenario? Otherwise, I thought that
you were saying that the person waking up in your bed
tomorrow is definitely *not* you, given your above views.

The key experiment is whether or not you would sacrifice
yourself for an exact duplicate. Say that it's totally
current with you, except for the last minute, and your
choice is to die, and the other choice is that he dies.
But if the instance of Stathis having the choice dies,
the other gets 10 million dollars in addition to getting
to live.

You know my answer: it will be me waking up in my bed
tomorrow, even if this instance chooses to die. One
indication of the reason is that that instance is vastly
more similar to me than is an instance that brutally
kidnapped for many hours (as someone's "joke").

> The conventional view on personal identity would seem
> to be wired into my brain at a much deeper level than
> the belief that the world
> is flat or that chunks of metal can't fly.

Yes, but is it more deeply wired than your conviction
that you are only in the here and now in a single world,
and that the OMs over time and space and dovetailers is
a stretch?


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Received on Wed Jun 21 2006 - 21:40:35 PDT

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