Yes, well I'm not prepared to go to that much effort, when I don't
know whether it will be good for me :)

I turned to Wikipedia (collective groanings from the list I hear?),
which has this to say on the subject of self-identity (which I guess
is the relevant bit of Parfit):

   "Self identity

   "Parfit uses many examples seemingly inspired by Star Trek and other
   science fiction, such as the teletransporter, to explore emotions and
   feelings regarding self-identity. He is a Reductionist, believing that
   self-identity can be reduced to a set of criteria that need not
   suppose that people do exist. To Parfit, Identity can be fully
   described impersonally: there need not be a determinate answer to the
   question "Will the person that continues to exist remain to be me?" We
   could know all the facts about an entity's continued existence and not
   be able to answer the question of whether or not the persisting person
   possesses a continual identity. He concludes that we are mistaken in
   assuming that personal identity is what matters, but rather that
   Relation R does: psychological connectedness (namely, of memory and
   character) and continuity (overlapping chains of strong
   connectedness).
   
   "In Parfit's system, individuals are nothing more than our brains and
   our bodies, but identity cannot be reduced to either, for identity, in
   the classical sense, is not what matters. Rather, Relation R is the
   point around which Parfit's theories turn. Parfit concedes that his
   theories conflict with rival Reductionist theories rarely in everyday
   life, and are only brought to blows by the introduction of
   extraordinary examples. However, he defends their usage in that they
   seem to arrouse genuine and strong feelings in many of us. Identity is
   not as determinate as we often suppose it is, but instead, such
   determinacy owes itself mainly to the way we talk. People exist in the
   same way that nations or clubs exist (which may be raised as support
   for the existence of corporations and corporate law).
   
   "A key Parfitian question is: given the choice to maintain your
   personal identity or your psychological continuity, which would you
   choose? Would one prefer to die (a loss of character but a persistence
   of personal identity), or instead have one's personal identity
   fragmented, but retain one's personality?  

In the Multiverse most of us everythingers inhabit, a lot of this
makes sense. Identity, ie what is or what is not me, is a problematic
question. It brings to mind the discussion between Bruno and was it
Jesse? (can't seem to find it in the archive) that they couldn't
really separate their identities in the Multiverse, as there would be
some continuous path from someone called Bruno to someone called
Jesse.

Clearly the relationship R is crucial - I believe its is essentially
equivalent to my "TIME assumption". Perhaps there is no choice to
Parfit's question above - ones identity melds, but one's psyche is
continuous - this is QTI, and also explains why reincarnation is
effectively a solution to QTI (the good old "Amoeba croaks" thread).

PS - I'm still in the dark re gaol and hypnogic myoclonus...

On Tue, Nov 15, 2005 at 04:02:38AM -0000, uv wrote:
> Russell Standish wrote on 13/11/2005
> 
> > Perhaps you can explain Parfit's ideas. I'm not familiar with them.
> 
> The are partly incorporated in his book "Reasons and Persons" 
> Oxford (1984) available in many good academic libraries, and in his 
> papers. 
> 
> 

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