Russell Standish  wrote:

>BTW another analogy is the islands of geneflow within biological
>species. Within biology, we have such things as ring species, where
>two species at a location (eg Britain) cannot interbreed, yet can
>interbreed with neighbouring species to the east and west in an
>interrupted chain that circumnavigates the pole. (Sorry I may not be
>explaining the concept of ring species too well - look up Wikipedia).
>In such a case, perhaps "ring identities" such as Jesse Mazer <->
>Bruno Marchal do exist - but I'd like to be surer of the analogy. Also
>ring species are the exception, not the rule, in Nature.

Ring species are the exception, but that's just because of extinction--if 
you had a time machine and could collect specimens from throughout history, 
of course any species could be smoothly joined to any other by tracing back 
each one's lineage to their common ancestor.

Anyway, I agree with your basic point--although practical possibility is not 
important to philosophical thought-experiments, *logical* possibility 
certainly is, and if there were no smooth path between me and Napoleon (or 
Bruno or anyone else) in the phase space of all possible minds/brains, such 
that every intermediate point on the path was a single integrated mind, then 
Parfit's thought-experiment wouldn't work. I don't think this "island" idea 
is very plausible given the hugeness of the space of all possible 
minds/brains, but it can't be ruled out.


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