Re: Can I kill the "original"?

Date: Fri May 19 2000 - 16:50:43 MDT

Lee Daniel Crocker writes:
> There is not even any
> real debate about what such a process would do: everyone knows
> exactly what the result of such a copying process would likely do,
> how each thing would likely feel and behave; there simply aren't
> any interesting facts in controversy here.

J. Goard replies:
> Hell, yes, there are. If I'm facing a choice whether to be copied, should
> I expect this self-awareness to continue in the original? Or continue in
> either the original or the copy, with a 50% probability of each? If I'm
> facing a choice whether to step into the (Star Trek) transporter, then the
> first possibility above would mean that my self-awareness would cease 100%
> of the time, and the second possibility would mean that my self-awareness
> would cease 50% of the time. Neither of which sound very appealing to me.
> The end of my self-awareness, my sense of ego, is what I call "death", nor
> is this merely a semantic matter.

But this is not a factual matter, in that there is no experiment you can do
which would settle it.

If you do step into the transporter, you will agree that someone
steps out. He has all of your memories, experiences, habits, and so on.
To him, it will feel like the transporter "worked" and did not eliminate
his self awareness. So this experiment will not answer the question for

And it will not answer the question for the body which steps into the
transporter, because it's not around any more.

The issue is whether you want to call the guy who steps out "the same
person" as the one who stepped in. It's a semantic question independent
of any factual issues, as far as I can see.

Can you suggest any experiments, at the end of which you can say whether
copies preserve the self-awareness of the original?


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