Re: Sincere Questions on Identity

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Dec 13 2001 - 00:36:16 MST

"Dickey, Michael F" wrote:
> Sincerely, I hate to bring this subject up again, but it has been running
> through my mind. It seems a good number of the people on this list support
> the assertion that a copy is 'you'.

I am not sure I consider the question all that relevant.
Increasing the number of intelligent beings or moving such
intelligence around in time or space seems like generally a good
thing to me whether or not I consider a "copy" to be "me". And
it seems a generally good thing if a being very much like "me"
is around for longer than this body might hold up.

> I was wondering if, perhaps, someone can enlighten me on the fallacies of my
> argument. It is vitally important for me that I feel comfortable in the
> manner in which I may end up surviving bodily death and that hopefully it
> will indeed be 'me' and not a copy of me.

I think you will have the devil's own job attempting to come up
with a reasonably tight and useful definition of just what
constitutes "you". It might be that the worry is unimportant
because what you consider "you" is not of as much substance as
you believe it to be.

> But people on this list feel that
> a 'copy' of me is actually indistinguishable from me, or IS me. I would
> like to learn as much as I can about this position, as I am striving to
> figure out what the most likely and simplest explanation for observed
> phenomena is. If the heart of this argument can be relayed to me, perhaps I
> will be able to feel solace in a copy of me surviving. Thanks for your
> input.

There are two main possible positions that I see:
a) there is some extra something that makes you "you" that does
not get copied and/or transferred in copying;
b) there is no such extra something.

So your position seems to require some variant of (a). Is that
correct? Definitely if we assume the copy is deep enough then
the copy will experience itself just as if it was "you". "You"
awakening in the copy would not consider yourself to not have
been at all any more than you consider yourself to not have been
when you wake up from sleep or anathesia.

> So far, the only arguments I have identified that argues against the
> 'continuity of consciousness' argument is the 'how do I know it hasn't
> happened already' form and the 'you aren't made of the atoms you were made
> of before'

- samantha

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