Re: Stuart is dead? Situational issues in identity

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Mar 13 2008 - 08:20:25 MDT

Stuart writes

> I never thought along those lines (though now I might). I have often
> thought about going back to the person I once was, and am sure that
> the past Stuart would not recognise me as the same person.

Care to mention ages, or at least proportions? Since we don't have
good measures and good tools, (and eventually may have many
different but reliable measures such as we have in statistical theory)
no precise answers can be forthcoming at this time.

As for me, I'm the same person I was when I was in my late teens.
Naturally, it tends to depend upon what anecdotes and memories
that are most salient at a given time when I'm doing the guessing.
For example, "the fifty percent overlap" in identity is definitely
exceeded if you take the 12 yr old Lee and compare him to
me. But---strictly you understand, to convey a *sense* of it---
the 30% me that my 12 yr old self actually implemented more
Lee than any other creature alive on Earth today does, except
my present self of course. Likewise, perhaps 30 years ago, I
had a 80% overlap with who I am now. Again, just to convey
a sense of it. Hope this is making sense, I'm pretty tired.

> The situation changes, though, if there are duplicates! Then I can no
> longer continue to carry the mantle of Stuart just out of laziness;
> because "well, I'm the closest thing around to what Stuart once was".

You can say that and think that, but we might reveal that we made
another duplicate of Stuart at some point in time that lays greater
claim to being the closest. It is important to completely repudiate
Nozick's seriously stupid idea of "closest continuuer".

> Perhaps this example hints at what the problem is: maybe we shouldn't
> be thinking "me and my duplicate are the same person, just as me today
> and me last year", but rather "me today and me next year are a
> different person, just as two of my duplicates in different
> circumstances."

Could you be embracing Mike Perry's notion of "day persons"?
That is, each day you wake up you are really a different person.
(Not that Mike endorses this view at all!) But it's silly, IMNSHO
to go around denying that you are not the same person you were
yesterday or a few minutes ago. Talk about doing violence to the
ordinary meanings of words!


P.S. I'm making my way through your very interesting , but
alas, am woefully not up to speed discussing this issue
on this list. But maybe I'll get better :-)

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