The importance of gradual change in the spectrum argument, is that
since personal identity can be conserved through discontinous changes
(the example you cite here), then any gradual change should not alter
identity either.

The slight flaw in this argument comes again by analogy with the
genetic code with gradual change considered equivalent to point
mutation. However a single point mutation is sufficient to
dramatically alter the phenotype, whereas large changes to the genome
can accrue without change to the phenotype at all (the so called
neutral mutations).

On Thu, Jun 01, 2006 at 02:07:09PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Jesse Mazer writes:
> > The strength of the synaptic connections between different > neurons or 
> > groups of neurons does change in a fairly continuous way, no? Of > course 
> > even if we specify all the synaptic connections and strengths, one's > 
> > conscious state can change in the short term as different neurons become > 
> > active, but I don't think this is important to Parfit's thought-experiment, 
> > > you can imagine a gradual change in the strength and arrangement of 
> > synapses > even while over the short term there may be more variation in 
> > mood and > thought processes.
> I don't think anyone has questioned the importance of *gradual* transition 
> from one person to another in Parfit's argument. After all, we have 
> discontinuities in consciousness all the time: when we are asleep, if we 
> perform some action in a drunken stupor and later forget that it ever 
> happened, following a head injury which may result in the excision of entire 
> chunks of our lives from memory. Given this, we can imagine changing from one 
> person to another despite discontinuities.
> Stathis Papaioannou
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