Pete:
I think this interpretation, using "I", has an unnecessary
complication to it.  What I think Lee is really saying
(in third person terms) is, "Person A ought to terminate
person A's life, because person A desires the existence
of (person B + 5 dollars) more strongly than he desires
the existence of (person A)."

Lee:
NOT AT ALL.  It is axiomatic in these discussions that the
subject is as *selfish* as can be imagined. I don't believe
that any "ought" has slipped in here (though thanks for the
warning from Hume). Perhaps I *ought* to sacrifice myself
to save 1000 Australians, but, if I am to act selfishly,
then I *ought* not in order to maximize my own benefit.

But my use of the word "ought" in this last sentence is not
the moral "ought". It means what one would expect, e.g.,
you ought to go outside if you want some sun.


I was using ought in the same sense too (rationally consistent with a given desire). Given that person A has the desires that he does, he ought to accept choice (1). I'm not saying whether person A ought (in the ethical sense) to have those desires or not, but given that he prefers (person B + 5 dollars) to (person A), and believes that by accepting choice (1) his preference will be realized, it is rational for him to behave by accepting choice (1).

You think that person A ought (in the ethical sense) to have a strong desire for the future existence of person B - no less, in fact, than for the future existence of person A. You imply this when you say the subject is selfish. I see your point, that normally we have a strong desire for the future existence of -- the person who will wake up in our bed tomorrow. But I don't think it's clear whether you can extend the common notion of "acting selfishly" into the situation with duplicates, and whether you should or not is something the Hume quote is relevant to. In other words, it is a fact that there are two identical people - or, to be even clearer, two identical organisms (A and B). Does this fact impinge on A's behavior with respect to B, and if so, why? If A hesitates to accept death or torture to the benefit of B, isn't that a good case for re-evaluating A's desires for B?

(Interestingly, clones in the animal kingdom sacrifice themselves for each other all the time - some worker bees and fire ants, for instance. At the gene's-eye view, a gene is sacrificing some copies of itself in order that a greater number of copies may get made down the line. Even without clones, there is kin selection, in which organisms behave altruistically towards close relatives, and this has a similar gene's-eye view explanation. Genes certainly cause behavior consistent with Lee's approach to personal identity, and it is in a strong sense selfish behavior.)

Pete

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