The Copy Paradox

John K Clark (
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 09:24:58 -0800 (PST)


John K Clark <> writes:

>Harvey Newstrom <> wrote:
>Would you really be willing to jump into a volcano, just because
>another copy of you will continue living?

>I can't answer that question because if the duplication process is
>really good then your scenario is impossible. If I wanted to jump
>into a volcano then the other fellow would too, so neither of us
>would continue living

>Leevi Marttila <>
>I was assuming that after perfect copying original was told he is
>original and copy was told he is copy. They could discuss with each
>other and then curiosity would win survival instinct in copy.

But then the two are no longer perfect copies of each other because they were
told different things. Some, like me, think the distinction between a copy
and an original is meaningless, so we wouldn't change much, so the received
information is irrelevant to the thought experiment, so my original objection

For some reason others think there is a huge, if inexpressible, difference
between a copy and an original, so if I told one of them that they were a
copy and could somehow get them to believe it (it would not be easy) then
they would become very upset. The copy would be undergoing a traumatic
emotional experience but the original would not, so the state of mind the two
would be in would not be even approximately the same, so my original
objection holds.

I think it tells you something that the substance of this thought experiment
is symmetrical, it in no way changes if you lie and tell the original he's
the copy and the copy he's the original. Convincing the copy he's the
original would as easy as convincing the original he's the original; and
convincing the original he's the copy would be no more difficult than
convincing the copy he's the copy.

John K Clark

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