Bruno marchal writes:

> Le 05-oct.-06, à 20:49, markpeaty a écrit :
> >
> > Bruno,
> > I started to read [the English version of] your discourse on Origin of
> > Physical Laws and Sensations. I will read more later. It is certainly
> > very interesting and thought provoking. It makes me think of 'Reasons
> > and Persons' by Derek Parfitt. His book is very dry in places but
> > mostly very well worth the effort of ploughing through it.
> Parfit is good. I stop to follow him when he insists that we are token. 
> I paraphrase myself sometimes by the slogan MANY TYPES NO TOKEN.

Can you explain the disagreement with Parfit? My reading of chapter 99 of 
R & P is that a "token" is a particular instantiation of a person while a 
is the ensemble of related instantiations. "Mary Smith" is a type, "Mary Smith 
coming out of replicator no. 978 at 11:05 AM" is a token. 

It appears that in this terminology (actually due to Bernard Williams, not 
once generated a token remains the same token until there is another branching, 
but my preference is to generalise the term and say that a token has only 
existence, which then makes "token" equivalent to "observer moment". This is 
literally true, given that from moment to moment, even in the absence of 
etc., the atoms in your body turn over such that after a certain time none of 
matter in your body is the "same", and before this time the fact that some of 
matter in your body is the "same" is accidental and makes no difference to your 
conscious experience.

As to whether I am token or type: obviously, literally, I-who-write-this-now am 
token. My present token is included in the set of related tokens in the past, 
other branches of the multiverse, surreptitious emulations of my mind made by 
and so on: the type. Note that the definition of a particular token (especially 
in my 
generalised sense, fixed to a specific and unique position in the multiverse) 
can be 
made completely unambiguous, while the definition of a type is necessarily 
vague and 
fuzzy arround the edges. For example, if a being exists somewhere with 70% of 
my memories and 30% of your memories, should he be included in my type, your 
a new type, or some combination of these? It is only because we experience a 
existence from birth to death, so that only a single token is extant at a time 
and there 
is clear physical continuity from one token to the next, that we can ignore the 
between token and type and consider the definition of a particular type to be 

As for what matters in survival, that is a contingent fact of the way our 
brains have 
evolved. It isn't as simple as saying that survival of type is what matters, 
except in the 
abovementioned linear existence with which we are familiar. One concise way to 
put it 
is that what matters in survival is that there should exist at least one token 
(or observer 
moment, or instantiation) which has my present token's memories in its past. 
it is important that where several such tokens exist, as I may feel myself 
"becoming" any 
one of them with equal probability, as many as possible should have good 
This works for simple branchings, but it becomes complicated when we consider 
and partial memory loss. Another problem is tokens in parallel worlds: I could 
say I don't 
survive if no future tokens exist who have my present memories, even though 
other tokens 
exist in the multiverse who branched off some time ago, but then that would be 
like saying 
I don't survive if I experience any memory loss at all, for example due to 
medications like 
midazolam. It could be that every second, tokens are finding themselves in 
hellish multiverse 
branches where they suffer horribly then die, which is equivalent to suffering 
horribly then 
having the memory of the experience erased. We can describe exactly what 
happens in each 
of these cases using the token or observer moment terminology, but reconciling 
this with 
psychological survival is problematic because our brains did not evolve to cope 
with these 
sorts of situations.

Stathis Papaioannou
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