# Re: A calculus of personal identity

`Brent Meeker writes (quoting Stathis Papaioannou and Lee Corbin, respectively):`
```
> >>Yet another thought experiment for your consideration. You are
> >>offered the option of 10 years of normal life, or being cloned
> >>20 times with each clone living one year. I would choose the
> >>10 years; if I chose the 20 clones, each one of those clones
> >>would be kicking themselves for their stupidity. I take it you
> >>would choose the 20 clones, and each of your clones would be
> >>smug in the knowledge that they have doubled their effective
> >>runtime?
> >
> >
> > That's right.  Math grabs me by the throat and says "the bridge
> > will hold"  oops, that's another time you have to believe the
> > math, sorry, it says "you will live twice as long and derive
> > twice the benefit in 20 copies as 10, just as if a single one
> > were to live 20 years instead of 10, he would acquire twice the
> > benefit."
> >
> > (For other readers, Stathis and I of course are controlling for
> > irrelevant aspects of this, such as nonlinearities that might follow,
> > for example, from considering that twenty successive years may be
> > a lot more meaningful, or something, than just ten years.)
> >
> > Yes, as each clone was about to die, they'd feel bad of course,
> > since the death of any human being is a sort of lie, an unfulfilled
> > promise.  But they'd feel better than the 10 year version when his
> > time is nearly up.  He'd say "I should have gone with the 20 duplicates
> > and had a fuller, richer life."
>
> I think he might say, "I've had such a short life, maybe I should have chosen
> the 10yrs - but then
> I'd have high probability of not having existed."
>
> Given that just after the cloning, the clones would quickly diverge, becoming
> different people; it
> seems you could be happy contemplating the fuller, richer life of all the
> people you know just as
> much as if they were clones of yourself.

"I've had such a short life, maybe I should have chosen the 10yrs - but then
I'd have high probability of not having existed."

That's an interesting take on the question that I didn't see initially. But
consider the following: suppose you are inadvertently exposed today to some
toxic chemical which will kill you in a year. You are aware of this fact, and
will remain physically well until the end. As a result, your life diverges
somewhat from what it would have been had you not been poisoned. As the end
approaches, you might reflect, "I've had a short life, but had I not been
poisoned, there is a high probability that the person I've been in the past
year would not have existed".

I think the above situation from a first person perspective is exactly
analogous to the cloning. In both cases, you can expect that whatever happens
after the cloning/poisoning, you will experience a year of life. In both cases,
you can be confident that the year of life experience after the
cloning/poisoning would probably not have occurred in its absence. In both
cases, had the cloning/poisoning not occurred, you could have looked forward to
a somewhat different, but hopefully no worse and probably much longer life.
There is a difference, of course, but this is only from a third person
perspective: the cloning would give rise to more person-years than the
poisoning. But as Brent says, if this third person knowledge were consolation,
you could as well be happy contemplating the lives of people you know just as
much as if they were your clones. (Indeed, I would personally find the idea of
clones of myself that I could run into quite disturbing, and the more like me
they were, the worse it would be.

Stathis Papaioannou
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