Saibal Mitra writes:
To me it seems that the notion of ''successor'' has to break down at cases
where the observer can die. The Tookies that are the most similar to the
Tookie who got executed are the ones who got clemency. There is no
reason why these Tookies should be excluded as ''successors''. They miss
part of their memories about things that happened after clemency was
Instead of those memories they have other memories. We forget things all
time. Sometimes we remember things that didn't really happen. So, we allow
for information loss anyway. My point is then that we should forget about
all of the information contained in the OM and just sample from the entire
set of OMs.
The notion of a ''successor'' is not a fundamental notion at all. You can
define it any way you like. It will not lead to any conflict with any
experiments you can think of.
You are right about death with a (not completely up to date) backup of your
mind being equivalent to memory loss, and you are right about the notion of
a successor not being fundamental to physics. Nevertheless, we can still ask
questions *given* our innate "theory" of personal identity, which has
evolved to be very powerful and difficult to change, and very consistent
from person to person. What this means is that if I were facing imminent
execution, try as I might, I would not get much consolation from the belief
that other versions of me in the multiverse will not be killed. In fact, I
don't really care what happens to versions of me in parallel branches. What
I care about is what is happening to me now, and what will happen to me in
the future. When I consider my immediate future, I consider and worry about
the fate of all those versions of me who remember almost everything about me
up to and including the present moment, which for them will be a moment ago.
Once the future comes and I find myself to be one of the aforementioned
versions, I immediately lose interest in all the other parallel versions,
because they are no longer potentially me.
Using the above structure, at the point where I am just about to have the
lethal injection, what I hope for is that there will be at least one version
of me in the multiverse who has just experienced having the injection a
moment ago, but has somehow survived. In other words, if one or more such
versions exist anywhere in the multiverse, then this is necessary and
sufficient for me to survive my execution.
It may be easy to find logical flaws in the above credo, but I maintain that
it is so deeply ingrained in each of us that it would be very difficult to
overcome, except perhaps on the intellectual level. One could imagine other
beliefs about personal identity that might have evolved if there were the
appropriate selection pressure; for example, identifying as part of a group
or swarm organism. The point is, our belief is not scientifically or
philosophically "right"; it is just our belief.
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