Russell Standish writes: > On Wed, May 31, 2006 at 04:36:46PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote: > > You're being too practical. That's fine for scientific speculation, but > > it can be an impediment in trying to understand philosophers. If I say, > > I'm sorry, but you've already lost me here. If there is no grounding > in understood terms, and in this discussion group that largely means > scientific notions, then we are not having a discussion at all.
Of course we have to have a grounding in understood terms if we are to have any sort of discussion. But there is a difference between science and philosophy. Philosophy need not necessarily deal with verifiable/falsifiable facts about the world, which to science is the sine qua non. The same thought experiment can lead to completely different discussions, depending on which way you look at it. Take the idea of making an exact copy of a person. The physicist may look at whether it is possible even in principle to make an exact copy of something down to the quantum level, and whether this level of fidelity would be necessary to yield functionally equivalent brain processes. The neurosurgeon may consider what Parfit calls "fission": whether it would in fact be possible to get two identical minds by cutting the corpus callosum, given the slight differences between hemispheres, the effect of the surgical trauma, and so on. To the philosopher, on the other hand, these questions are only a side issue. What he is interested in is the conditional: IF a person could be perfectly duplicated, THEN which of the two copies would we say is the continuation of the pre-duplication person? Would it be one, both or neither? What should the person about to undergo duplication expect to experience? Can we come up with a definition of personal identity which provides a satisfactory and unequivocal answer to these questions? If not, what does this say about the concept of continuity of personal identity over time, which hitherto we all thought we understood? I suppose there are some scientists (and probably even more laypeople) who would regard the purely philosophical questions with contempt: if mind duplication etc. is a practical or theoretical impossibility, why waste time thinking about such nonsense? My purpose is not to enter into that debate, but just to point out that Parfit is a philosopher, and you have to keep that in mind when reading his work. Stathis Papaioannou --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to email@example.com To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED] For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---