RE: IDENTITY- What it means to be 'me'

From: Louis Newstrom (
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 06:44:44 MST

> From:
> []On Behalf Of John Clark

> I maintain it does not, in this case if you swap two newly minted
> unscratched
> coins the economy will not be effected. Thus they have the "same identity"
> as far as the economy is concerned but of course being a thing
> two quarters
> have twice the mass of one.

The key phrase here is "as far as the economy is concerned". When we are
talking about identity and survival, most people want "as far as I am
concerned". According to your example, my company could kill me and hire
another Software Engineer (even if they don't resemble me at all). There
would be no affect as far as the company was concerned, but I would object
to that plan as my identity is clearly destroyed as far as I am concerned.

> That's true but a quarter is a thing, in the same way brick is a
> thing, but as I
> said I don't believe I am a thing. The number 17 is not a thing,
> neither is the color
> red the word "beautiful" or computer software.

I do not believe that the laws of physics will distinguish between what you
call "things" and "non-things". A transporter or a copier will treat you
and the brick the same. I don't think whether you call it a "thing" will

> that's
> why if you have two MP3 files of the same symphony on your
> computer and you
> erase one file you are not poorer for it because nothing has been
> lost.

I claim something has been lost, but you don't see it because your example
is something that can be easily duplicated. What if the music industry
succeeds in making uncopyable music files. Having two copies means that two
people could move it to their walkman's and walk around. Having one copy
means that only one person could move it to their walkman and walk around.
(Just like being poorer for having one quarter instead of two.) You just
don't see the difference because you are assuming that you can copy the
symphony at will.

> do you think you're more like a symphony or more like a brick?

By your definition of whether I am a valuable thing that loses value when
destroyed, I am more like a brick. (After all, I do have a natural clone
walking around, but I still believe that something would be lost if one of
us were destroyed.)

I think these arguments continue because people are limiting themselves to
only looking at one copy. Yes, if you can only have one quarter, it doesn't
matter which one. But if you look at ALL the quarters, then each one is
uniquely valuable, and something is lost if any of them are destroyed.
(Whether there is a "loss" to the universe might have a different answer
from "did I survive" which I think is where the original debate arose from.)

Louis Newstrom

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