Saibal Mitra writes:
The answer must be a) because (and here I disagree with Jesse), all that
exists is an ensemble of isolated observer moments. The future, the past,
alternative histories, etc. they all exist in a symmetrical way. It don't
see how some states can be more ''real'' than other states. Of course, the
universe we experience seems to be real to us while alternative universes,
or past or future states of this universe are not being experienced by us.
So, you must think of yourself at any time as being randomly sampled from
the set of all possible observer moments. To get to answer b) you have to
redefine your identity so that experiencing having done the experiment
becomes a necessary part of your identity. But this is cheating because you
wouldn't say that if ''death'' were replaced by a partial memory erasure
such that the experience of having done the experiment were wiped out form
> Stathis Papaioannou writes:
> If on the basis of a coin toss the world splits, and in one branch I am
> instantaneously killed while in the other I continue living, there are
> several possible ways this might be interpreted from the 1st person
> (a) Pr(I live) = Pr(I die) = 0.5
> (b) Pr(I live) = 1, Pr(I die) = 0
> (c) Pr(I live) = 0, Pr(I die) = 1
> Even on this list, there are people who might say (a) above is the case
> rather than (b) or (c).
> Bruno Marchal replies:
> Are you sure?
> I was thinking of people who accept some ensemble theory such as MWI,
> don't believe in QTI. I must admit, I find it difficult to understand
> even a dualist might justify (a) as being correct. Would anyone care to
I agree that "all that exists is an ensemble of isolated observer moments"
is a good way to look at it. In fact, that is why I think the best
"objective" answer is (c) rather than (b): each OM exists only transiently.
However, as a human, what I am interested in is the experience (one could
say, the illusion) of living my life a step at a time which results from the
existence of certain special OMs in the great and mixed up ensemble of all
possible OMs. Now, where I disagree with you is in the method and meaning of
sampling from this ensemble. It is literally true, in a sense, that my "next
experience" is more likely to be an OM of relatively high measure: a moment
from my life in any month other than November 2005; the experiences of a
Chinese rather than an Australian; death, the content-poor OM of inanimate
matter. If a third person were randomly pulling OMs from the plenitude and
setting them down in order, that is indeed what he would get. Amazingly,
however, when *I* am doing the sampling, my "next experience" always turns
out to be... well, something that we all recognise as a next experience. I
always seem to find that rare OM amongst all the other other ones where I
turn into a turnip, or I'm suddenly 95 years old, or all the other countless
possibilities. I don't even have to go looking for it: if it's out there at
all, I'll find it. If there are several candidate "next moments", including
ones where I have suffered partial memory loss, which one I (that is, one
version of me) experience will seem to be determined probabilistically. And
if there are no candidate next moments at all, then I die.
I have used "I" rather loosely and without defining it because there is no
objective truth of the matter when considering personal identity. I may be
physically completely different (i.e. comprised of different matter) today
than I was a year ago, and my mental state and memories may only be
approximately similar to what they were then, but I am sure I am still the
same person, and that is what counts. If I had undergone a head injury or a
dementing illness in the past year, I would be even less similar now than I
was then, but I would probably still think I was the same person unless I
was really far gone, in which case it probably would be the same as if I had
died. These are matters millions of people deal with every day: you don't
have to bring up multiple copies in other worlds.
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