John Clark (
Sun, 22 Nov 1998 11:18:46 -0500

Hash: SHA1 Wrote:

     >Does the principle of Identity of Indiscernables tell us when
     >and how we can tell when TWO objects (2, count em, TWO) are the
     >"same?" No, actually, it doesn't.

And then you go on to correctly describe exactly how the Identity of Indiscernibles can determine if two objects are the same: "if you could Switch two objects and get a physical state indiscernable from the original state, then the objects must be identical."

I'm not sure what you're driving at here, if it's that they're identical but not the same it's a distinction without consequences.

     >But despite the fact that these two objects (dos, duo, not 1 or
     >3; four is right out!) are identical, they are not the "same
     >object." They are: *two* *indiscernable* objects.

Who cares? It wouldn't matter how many objects there were or which one I had if I couldn't discern the difference. And the things we value most are not objects at all, they're attributes. If there are 2 green cubes there may be two objects but there is only one "green", and only one "2" and only one "cube". I don't need to conjure up Plato and there is nothing metaphysical or mystical in this, it's just that not everything is a noun. The wonderful thing about computers is that they work great with adjectives, they can describe matter in great detail.

>How does this relate to consciousness?

It makes my job even easier if I'm allowed to deal with more abstract stuff and not just concrete objects. It doesn't matter if there are two identical brains or only one because consciousness doesn't have a position in space. Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking for "fast" in the engine of a racing car. I am not an object, I am not a noun, I am an adjective modifying matter, I am the way matter behaves when it is organized in a Johnclarkian way. The Johnclarkian way is vastly more complex than the "green" way or the "2" way, or the "cube" way, and it's far rarer too, but it's a difference of degree not of kind.

     >it seems not at all unreasonable that the copies might be
     >willing to die so that the other one would live.

It's just as reasonable (or unreasonable) that the original would be willing to die so that the copy could live.

>We see this all the time in parents willing to give their own lives for
>their children. [...] I'd be inclined to think that they'd be MUCH more willing
>to do so, since (at least for a fraction of a second) they'd even satisfy the
>conditions for Identity of Indiscernables: for a brief moment, they'd be
>identical *in every way*.

The trouble is that all would feel exactly the same way so everybody would kill themselves.

>So I answer the question this way: If the copies don't mind dying so
>Long as one of the other copies still lives (or so long as another copy can
>Be made,) then it's fine for them to do so.

If there were 10 identical copies of me running in parallel and I had a machine that would pick one copy at random to survive and at the same instant destroy the other 9 copies then I wouldn't mind pushing the button. The other 9 John Clarks would of course have exactly the same opinion.

John K Clark

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