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
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
generalised sense, fixed to a specific and unique position in the multiverse)
made completely unambiguous, while the definition of a type is necessarily
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
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
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
is that what matters in survival is that there should exist at least one token
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
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
exist in the multiverse who branched off some time ago, but then that would be
I don't survive if I experience any memory loss at all, for example due to
midazolam. It could be that every second, tokens are finding themselves in
branches where they suffer horribly then die, which is equivalent to suffering
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
psychological survival is problematic because our brains did not evolve to cope
sorts of situations.
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