Re: personal identity

Wei Dai (
Fri, 9 Jan 1998 17:55:24 -0800

On Sat, Jan 10, 1998 at 12:07:25AM +0000, Nick Bostrom wrote:
> Not that we might not need a new grammar for personal identity. Our
> present notion seems to be hopelessly vague and confused. But it
> might be best to use new terms to signify the new usage you propose.
> Stop talking about personal identity and start talking about personal
> containment, for example?

I wanted to avoid mathematical notation and stick with natural language,
but you've convinced me that it is probably more confusing than helpful.
Anyway, my idea is really simple. I'll just repeat it one more time using
Anders Sandberg's proposed notation (see

Anders defines the function dist(X,Y) to be the identity distance between
mind states X and Y as evaluated by X. For example H(X) = {Y : dist(X,Y) <
Dmax(X)} is X's maximal hull of identity, i.e., the set of states X
considers to be himself.

So what I'm saying is that dist(X,Y) equals the authenticity of Y's memory
of being X, where X is me or anyone who shares my (still tentative)
philosophy of personal identity.