On 27 April 2004 Bruno Marchal wrote:

But you will be dead in the same sense that you will
be dead in the next instant, at least with what I understand
when you quote Parfit. In THAT case you shouldn't care at
all in the presence of any possible threats, no?

Yes, you could say that we die every moment and are replaced by near-exact replicas. You could imagine a situation where this is made more explicit: alien scientists stop the world every second, make copies of everyone, kill all the originals, put the copies in their place, and repeat the procedure in another second. They could have been doing this for years, without anyone suspecting anything unusual was going on. If you are suddenly given this information, and you know that the aliens are going to continue doing this indefinitely (and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them or escape), would you suddenly stop caring about anything that happens in the future, because you'll be dead in one second anyway, and so will everyone you have ever known?

There is a single idea underlying much of the confusion in discussions of personal identity: the belief in a soul. I use this term for a quality or substance which resides in a person throughout his life and is somehow responsible for his identity, and which (here is the problem) is not captured by a complete description of the person's physical and psychological state. Often, it is a hidden assumption.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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