Re: Is a Person One or Many?

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Wed Mar 12 2008 - 04:01:51 MDT

On 12/03/2008, John K Clark <> wrote:

> No, there is still a 50% chance I will be tortured. There are a 101
> identical copies of me running and they are all me, eventually the
> copies open their envelopes and one of them sees something the other 100
> do not, it says torture. He is still me but now he's different from the
> other 100, he has diverged. So now there are 2 of me, the tortured copy
> and the other identical 100.

You can only experience being a single person at the one time: there
is no magical process telling you that there are 100 other copies of
you or what those copies are up to. However, the illusion of a mind
flitting from one copy to another is created by the fact that although
you definitely know who you *are* you can't know who you *were*. A
particular CD you hold in your hand is a single concrete instance of
stored information, but there is no way to tell that the information
came from one hard disk or another, if both of the hard disks had the
same information. This means that if there are 101 identical copies,
you are definitely only one of those copies now, but in the next
moment you could be any one of the copies (including the present one)
whose experience is consistent with the information in your present
copy being in their subjective past. If this next moment involves
opening the envelope, you will end up finding that you are one (and
only one) of the 100 copies that reads "no torture" or the single copy
that reads "torture". So you are 100 times as likely to read "no

Stathis Papaioannou

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