> ...I think we may basically agree, but there are some differences. If you
> look at it from a third person perspective, continuity of personal identity
> over time is not only a delusion but a rather strange and inconsistent
I'm not quite sure I understand why you say this. Do you only
mean that *continuity* can be manipulated, e.g., on the one hand
we suffer a discontinuity every night when we fall asleep; on
the other, in the future it will be possible to record your
Monday experience, your Tuesday experience, etc., and then
a few months later play them back in reverse sequence? (We might
even give the latter replays tremendous measure, so that so far
as the parameter *time* is concerned, almost all of your Mondays
occurred after your Wednesdays.
Or do you mean more?
> Nevertheless, in the manner of delusions, realising this
> intellectually does not make the delusion any less real at the "gut" level
> of first person experience. Using my example where I am to be copied 10
> times tomorrow and one copy tortured, I view this as a 10% chance that I
> will be tortured tomorrow. You point out that this is not really correct:
> there is a 100% chance that one copy of me will be tortured and a 0% chance
> that the other 9 copies will be tortured, and all 10 copies have an equal
> claim to being "me". This is the objective truth, but that doesn't make me
> feel any differently about the matter.
I agree completely. It's just that we have now advanced conceptually
so that our feelings no longer match what we know to be the truth.
We still feel that the Earth is stationary and the sun moves, but now
we know better. Likewise this feeling that you have a 10% chance of
experiencing X is not anything that we are going to be able to shake soon.
> I still feel that there is a 10%
> chance I will be tortured, and I still feel relieved that I am one of the
> lucky copies when tomorrow comes and I am not tortured. There is an
> inconsistency here in that today I identify with all the copies and tomorrow
> I identify with only one, but so what? As you say, that is how our minds
> have evolved.
> If the experiences of the copy who is to be tortured will eventually be
> merged with those of the non-tortured copies, that changes the situation,
> because then it is *guaranteed* that I will eventually experience the
Good point. To be precise let's say that tomorrow you will split into
the ten copies, one of which will be tortured. Then one *year* from
now merging is scheduled to occur. Therefore you behave differently?
I don't think you should. (You may *have* to because that's how we
are built, but you still shouldn't.)
As I like to say "just because you are not (locally) experiencing
something, doesn't mean it isn't happening to you". Suppose that
you don't know whether any merging is to ever happen. How should
that change the way you feel about your copy being tortured? Now,
I grant that you don't get the sweaty palms if there won't be
any merging, but to me that's just a base animalistic reflex action.
The truth is that *you* are in two places at the same time, and in
the other place you are hurting a lot.
The point is that *now* your duplicate is in pain. For purely
selfish reasons, this should be a big deal to you, I contend.
Whether or not eons from now some merging does or does not
take place shouldn't change your approval or disapproval of
physical events taking place now.
> I would worry similarly if I were to inherit the experiences of any
> unrelated third person; the fact that it is other copies of me who are
> suffering does not in itself make any selfish difference.
Two points. First, if it's an "unrelated third person", it becomes
very unclear what merging would mean. We ran into a little of that
with trying to obtain memories of having been a bat.
Second, I don't think that the sudden acquisition of memories is
nearly as big a deal as the actual, first-time-though gaining of
an experience. I would vastly rather be given the memories of
having been tortured than to actually experience it (and retain
the memory). (Some very nice thought experiments obtain when
one plays off experience vs. memory-acquisition.)