> It’s perhaps unfortunate that we are arguing about this because
> I think we basically agree on what Derek Parfit has called a
> reductionist theory of personal identity (in his 1984 book
> "Reasons and Persons";
Yes, I was very relieved to have read portions of that book.
Very few people I knew---and they, only because I had talked
them into it---accepted the theory that you and I are espousing.
> apparently "reductionist" was not in wide use as a term of
> abuse back then).
Oh yes it was; I think that it got even worse before it got better.
But even today, it may be that you have to come to an "Everything"
list, or other forum where the skeptical and well-read hang out.
> I like to emphasize the instantaneous or granular nature of
> personhood not because we literally die and are resurrected every
> moment, as those words are commonly understood, but because it
> would make no significant difference to our stream of
> consciousness or sense of self if in fact this were the case.
Why are you so sure that there is a fact of the matter?
Insofar as facts are concerned, there is a lot of agreement that
you are the same person you were yesterday. I'm not sure why we
need to redefine what is normally meant.
> How, where and when the mental states are implemented is
> irrelevant and unknowable from a first person perspective,
> unless it actually affects the content of the mental states.
Oh, well if you mean to be talking about mental states, then
I cannot disagree with anything you've said. But if we are
trying to talk about "people" or personhood, it's evident
that many mental states correspond to one person.
> Hal Finney in his recent thread on teleportation thought
> experiments disagrees with the above view. He suggests
> that it is possible for a subject to apparently undergo
> successful teleportation, in that the individual walking
> out of the receiving station has all the appropriate
> mental and physical attributes in common with the individual
> entering the transmitting station, but in reality not survive
> the procedure. I have difficulty understanding this, as it
> seems to me that the subject has survived by definition.
Well, if you've characterized his views correctly, then he's
not in agreement with you, me, and Derek Parfit. What might
be fun to explore is how desperate some people would have to
be in order to teleport (or perhaps how lucrative the
opportunity?). Also, I suppose that if you confided to them
that this was happening to them all the time thousands of
times per second, they'd still have some unfathomable reason
not to go near a teleporter.
Finally, if we had such devices, soon only the real old fogeys
and a few peculiar philosophers wouldn't make steady use of them.
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