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,
> "if I were God, I would get rid of all the flies", I am saying something
> about my attitude to flies; the fact that me becoming God might be a
> practical and probably a theoretical impossibility is beside the point.
> Similarly, Parfit's thought experiments are designed to explore the
> meaning of the term "personal identity", not the likelihood that Star
> Trek will become reality. Certainly, in the world we live in it is very
> easy to come up with a reliable *practical* method for verifying a
> person's identity, such as asking his wife, or via neuronal DNA
> analysis, or whatever; but this does not really tell us what, in
> essence, personal identity is. What if, by science or magic, a person
> were perfectly duplicated? What if, by science or magic, incremental
> changes were made to a person's mind so that his mental state came to
> resemble that of a different person? Is it possible to arrive at a
> definition of personal identity which would yield what everyone would
> agree is the "right" answer in such cases? Parfit's conclusion is that
> there is no such definition possible; no objective "truth of the matter"
> regarding personal identity. What we are left with is something perhaps
> disturbingly vague: what matters to us in survival is just the feeling
> of psychological continuity, regardless of what physical processes take
> place to bring about this feeling.
> 
> Stathis Papaioannou   

Of course such cases already arise in which Alzheimers or schizophrenia changes 
a person into
"someone else", i.e. we say he is "no longer himself".  Just because there is 
an continuum of
intermediate states it doesn't follow that there is no "fact of the matter".

Brent Meeker


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