Re: Is a Person One or Many?

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Mar 08 2008 - 21:47:02 MST

Stathis writes

> Lee Corbin wrote:
>> > It is an objective fact that tomorrow someone will wake up in my bed
>> > who thinks he is me, but it is *not* an objective fact that this person is,
>> > indeed, me.
>> What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for him to be
>> you, that is, for the collection of molecules we find in your bed
>> tomorrow to be you? And by that I mean exactly: under what
>> transformations do you survive?
> I survive under the transformations that people normally think of as
> survival. But the point is that this depends on my psychology rather
> than being something basic to physics.

So if someone says "I will survive the upcoming thermonuclear
explosion, because the fused metal on the ground will really
be me", I suppose all you can do is shrug your shoulders and
say, "Well, each to his own". There isn't any objective fact
of the matter whether a given person has survived a transformation.

You're giving up too easily!

> You can try to come up with an objective criterion for survival,
> such as "all copies are selves",

That is *not* a criterion! That is a claim, though.

The criterion is sufficient similarity of structure, just as for
everything else. An object is a rabbit if its DNA is close
enough, and if it is morphologically close enough. Naturally
there is no precise dividing line, but please don't say that
anyone is free to call anything a rabbit (without being
very, very wrong, absolutely wrong).


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