Lee Corbin writes:
> As I have said above, it is possible to rigorously define death as
> when there is no successor observer moment, anywhere or ever. This is
> case with physical death where there is no surviving copy or where the
> surviving copy has diverged from the original, and it is also the case
> memory loss.
Then you are claiming that a lot of death occurs in Aussie bars?
Some really, really plastered guy is told the most *amazing*
things by a gal who knows he won't remember a word the next
day. So there are no successor observer moments to his experience
of hearing these amazing things...
The point you are making is the most convincing, and also most troubling,
argument in support of your thesis that we should consider copies as selves.
If I die today and then a backup copy of me that was made yesterday is run,
this is equivalent to me losing a day of memories. If I believe that I will
survive if I experience the memory loss, then I must also believe that I
will survive my death if the backup is run.
I think there is good reason to equate memory loss with death. The sense of
personal identity is dynamic, redefined every moment by the sum of all
mental processes which, iceberg-like, surface and manifest as conscious
experience. When I think about the immediate future, I think about what it
will be like for me as I am *now*; how I was yesterday or last year is of
course important in making me as I am now, but if those former selves came
along in a time machine or as backup copies, I would not share their first
person experiences, nor they mine. If I think about imminent death, I think
about me-now having no more experiences of any sort, ever again. This could
come about with the physical death of my body, or it could come about with
the destruction of this me-now construct, which is what would happen if my
memory were wiped. I know that Stathis will still have experiences if part
of my memory is wiped, but in an important first person sense it will be a
different Stathis, because it won't be me-now experiencing a next moment. If
I die or my memory is wiped, the first person experience of the present
moment, and all of what would have been its linear descendants, will vanish
from the universe forever.
Now, people lose parts of their memory all the time, and the person who
survives the memory loss generally doesn't worry about the fate of the
person who lost their memory. We have seen this in the reports of those who
have undergone medical procedures under sedation with midazolam: even if
they did experience pain, they can't remember it so it doesn't matter now.
This is in keeping with what I have said above about the person who is about
to lose their memory being effectively a separate individual who is about to
die. Sometimes their are legal consequences for a person's bad behaviour
when intoxicated, and often they are quite indignant that they are being
charged: if I can't remember it, it wasn't really I who did it. (In a sense,
this leads *away* from the conclusion that copies are selves if the analogy
with memory loss is to be pursued: the person who loses their memory and the
person who survives may actually know nothing about each other, care nothing
about each other, and even work directly against each other's interests.
They share the same identity and some or most of their past, but they are
Having said all that, why have I stated in previous posts that I would agree
to some memory loss for a sum of money? Because I will convince myself that
I will survive it, I have seen other people apparently survive it, and I
have apparently survived it myself in the past. So why would I not agree to
effectively the same amount of memory loss by killing myself given that a
backup of my mind has been made? Perhaps for the same reason that I would
not jump out of a plane with a parachute, even if I knew that the parachute
would work properly.
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