where can I get a copy of this alarming book?



On 24/05/2006, at 5:28 PM, Russell Standish wrote:

> Several list members cajoled me into reading David Parfit's "Reasons
> and Persons". So I braved our dragon infested library, and sourced a
> copy. I can see why his book is relevant to this list, particularly
> part 3 of his book "Personal Identity". It was a good recommendation -
> I can certainly recommend this as one of the background readers - too
> late it missed the cutoff for my book :)
> However, there was one thought experiment that concerned me, and it
> relates to his notion of psychological spectrum. We are to suppose
> that it is possible to generate psyches in between our mind and that
> of Napoleon Bonaparte, by progressively swapping in neurons from NB's
> brain.
> Since we have a number of closet computationlists here, I paraphrased
> the thought experiment as what if we swapped the transistors in my PC
> for that of a (old-style PPC) Mac. At first, there would be little
> difference, and the machine would be indistinguishable from that of a
> PC - save a few bugs (anyone remember the Pentium division
> bug?). Similarly, at the other end of the spectrum, the machine would
> be virtually indistinguishable from a Mac. But what about the machines
> in the middle? Surely these machine would simply be
> non-functional. Replacing PC transistors with Mac transistors would be
> no different from simply disabling the PC transistors - eventually a
> critical path would be severed, and the machine would be defunct.
> No two human brains are wired identically - indeed our daily
> experience updates the connections between our neurons. Gradually
> replacing neurons in our brain by someone else's neurons would have
> the same effect as simply removing neurons one-by-one. For a while,
> there would be little noticable effect - brains are, after all quite
> robust against damage. But eventually, and well before the magical 50%
> mark I would suggest, the structural organisation of our brain would
> be lost, and we'd lose consciousness.
> Since quite a bit of Parfit's later arguments depend on this
> psychological spectrum thought experiment, it seems some of his
> identity issues aren't in fact problems at all. Anyone have a comment
> on this, or is it all obvious philosophy 101 stuff that I missed.
> Cheers
> --  
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> A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
> Mathematics                                  0425 253119 (")
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