Re: Is a Person One or Many?

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Sat Mar 15 2008 - 22:24:23 MDT

On 16/03/2008, Jeff L Jones <> wrote:

> Exactly. I think the only reason John Clark and Vladimir Nesov are
> coming to idiotic conclusions here is because they think that
> anticipation is subjective or tied in with consciousness or identity.
> While they can come up with whatever bizarre definition for identity
> or consciousness they like, it really doesn't tell you anything
> meaningful, because they are only talking about something subjective
> (viewing someone as an "adjective" for instance). You can believe
> whatever you want about identity, since at heart it's not really a
> meaningful concept, and neither is subjective anticipation. But you
> *cannot* believe whatever you want about objective anticipation.
> Anticipating the wrong thing is going to cause most of your copies to
> behave the wrong way.

I agree that personal identity is a subjective concept, and this is
the reason for the "paradoxes" in thought experiments involving
duplication. However, we are stuck with the brains that we have
evolved with, and the idea that there can only be one version of us
persisting through time determines our concept of survival and
subjective anticipation.

I'm not sure what you mean by "objective anticipation". Suppose you
have the choice of either being given a million dollars, or having 10
copies of yourself made who will then have their memories wiped and
each given a million dollars. Subjectively, I would like to be given
the million dollars. Objectively, my copies will prosper if I choose
the second option, but I don't care because I won't be able to
anticipate enjoying any of that money. Moreover, I wouldn't choose to
alter my sense of personal identity and anticipation so that I prefer
the second option, even though evolution would favour individuals that

Stathis Papaioannou

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