Re: Stuart is dead? Situational issues in identity

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Thu Mar 13 2008 - 10:57:20 MDT

> 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.

Not sure about proportions; but the rate of change is quite high (I
wouldn't consider I was the same person as 3 years ago, pretty much).

> 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!

Words deserve all the violence we can inflict on them! :-)
I think we are talking of difference of degree, not of kind. We can
merge me with a recent duplicate of me; or we can merge Shakespear
with Einstein; the second is just much harder. I am not entirely the
same as I was yesterday - very close, but the differences add up.

Duplicates (assuming you duplicate all their friends and possessions)
are similar to each other; but the differences add up. We should not
say "they are all Stuart" up until some point when suddenly they are
no longer the same person.

Mathematically, we could claim that two duplicates represent 1.001
people, and tend towards 1.8 people as they age; if their experiences
are different enough, they will reach 2 people.

Not too sure about the moral consequences of this. Logically, killing
one duplicate immediately is barely a crime; the evil of killing
increases as the two diverge, and there are a host of questions - what
if you kill one with a slow acting poison? what if the two diverge
much faster, because of some traumatic event?

> Nozick's seriously stupid idea of "closest continuuer".

Don't know what that idea is, but the name sounds appealing. I do feel
that if I was duplicated every day, and the duplicates were either
frozen or sent of to live other lives, then (if I was deprived of my
social interactions and my posessions) I would not have a strong claim
to being "Stuart Armstrong".

> 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 :-)

Danke! :-)

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