Brent Meeker writes:

> I would say that what makes a statement like "we're the same person from 
> moment to moment" true is
> that it's an inference from, or a part of, a model of the world that is 
> "true" in the provisional
> sense of scientific theories, i.e. it subsumes and predicts many emprically 
> verified observations
> (e.g. if I wake you up in the middle of the night and ask you your name 
> you'll reply 'Stathis') and
> it has not made any falsified predictions.  So in this sense we could say 
> that our model of
> personhood is better than that of the day-people - not in the sense that we 
> can show theirs is
> false, but in the sense that ours has greater predictive power and scope.

If I were a day-person and you woke me in the middle of the night, I would say 
that the person who went to bed last night was Stathis-1 and the person now 
awake is Stathis-2. I would agree that Stathis-1 and Stathis-2 are comprised of 
mostly the same matter and have similar mental attributes, but the fact 
remains, the brains of my species have evolved so that waking up from sleep 
makes them believe they are a new person. This isn't a model or a theory; it's 
more like reporting that I'm hungry, or frightened. Philosophical problems 
arise when this feeling of continuity of identity (or lack of it) is equated 
with some empirical fact. It happens that in our own evolution physical and 
mental continuity has been strongly correlated with the subjective feeling of 
continuity of identity, and it is tempting to say that therefore physical and 
mental continuity is equivalent to or (slightly weaker) necessitates continuity 
of identity. However, this default model that we all use day to day is flawed 
on two counts. Firstly, the correlation is not necessary, but contingent on 
evolutionary circumstances. It is easy enough to imagine rational beings like 
the day-people who have a completely different approach to personal identity. 
Secondly, the default model is not even internally consistent, as shown in 
duplication thought experiments. If I am to be duplicated tomorrow and one of 
the copies tortured, I am worried; but when tomorrow comes, and I am not 
tortured, I am relieved. How is it that I "become" one or other copy when my 
mental continuity with both is the same? There is no ambiguity in the empirical 
facts, but there is ambiguity in how I experience continuity of identity - 
because these are two different things and there is no simple, consistent 
relationship between them. 

Lee Corbin's solution would be that we should take the empirical facts alone - 
both copies are me - and dismiss the nagging feelings that make us think 
otherwise, but this reminds me of an old Australian poem in which a drunk is 
receiving counselling for his addiction: "you've convinced me it's bad for me, 
now convince me I don't like it."

Stathis Papaioannou
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