RE: Sincere Questions on Identity

From: Dickey, Michael F (
Date: Fri Dec 14 2001 - 07:53:29 MST

From: Samantha Atkins []

(This message did not appear to go through, sorry if it ends up going
through twice... - Michael)

"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
> 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 consider it very relevant if the question is regarding my continued
existence. I ask you the same question that I asked in response to another
message, if you could have a magical guarantee of subjective immortality,
would you prefer that over merely being copied? One option guarantees
subjective immortality, the other only hopes it still occurs. Well, since
we can not magically guarantee subjective immortality, it would be
reasonable to approach the question as conservatively and as cautiously as
possible. We need not discuss any metaphsyical 'souls' or resort to
philosophical musings, we know that a human brain houses a concioussness,
therefore do as much as we can to make your brain immortal without a
destructive copying and you have subjective immortatily. I am sure you, as
most people, would prefer copying over *nothing* but would you not prefer
subjective immortatility over copying?

> I was wondering if, perhaps, someone can enlighten me on the fallacies of
> 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. "

I dont think it is neccesary to even define 'me' or 'you' All we need to do
is perform a simple scientific test, Copy you without destroying the
original. Wake them both up, take one of you into another room, and ask the
other you if they can percieve what the other you percieves. If not, then
you are subjectively isolated and a copy would not constitute subjective
immortality. NO definition of 'you' or 'me' need be agreed upon.

In my opinion, though, an objective definition of me would merely be my
neural pattern, but a subjective definition of me would be my neural pattern
and the material that makes up that pattern, as the above thought
experiement demonstrates, copying the pattern to a new medium will not
result in a subjective continuity.

"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. "

No, my position does not require the existence of some supernatural source
of 'me'. As the thought expirement I laid out demonstrates, if the copy and
the original have isolated subjective experiences, then killing the original
is not conducive to subjective continuity.


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