Mark Peaty writes:
SP: 'Is there anything about how you are feeling to day that makes you sure that aliens didn't come during the night and replace your body with an exact copy? Because that is basically what happens naturally anyway, although it isn't aliens and it takes months rather than overnight: almost every atom in your body is replaced with another atom, put in roughly the same place. If the discarded atoms were kept rather than sloughed off, exhaled etc. you would see that your identical twin of a few months ago had died and no-one even noticed, because it happened gradually. Other than in the speed and scheduling of your death, how does destructive teleportation differ from normal life?' MP: * I know, which here means 'believe with confidence', that aliens didn't come because everything feels, looks, smells, etc, as normal. I am a creature of habit just like you and there is no evidence of radical differences anywhere that I can notice.
That's the point, and the point of the chapters in Parfit's "Reasons and Persons" about personal identity. I would have bet that you would agree given what you said about consciousness being entirely bases on the physical structure of your body: if the physical structure is preserved, how would you know your body had been replaced? Of course if the aliens left you with antennas coming out of your head or made you forget that you were married you or someone else would quickly notice, but how is it even possible that such a change could occur as a result of the duplication if the duplication is of the engineering tolerance is at least as good as that of a normal overnight sleep?
* I quibble about whether atoms are replaced within DNA except as part of the normal processes of replication and repair. That aside, it is not the atoms per se which gives my identity but their incorporation into molecular structures, and the incorporation of all these molecular structures holonistically into cells, organs, and all the rest. Our bodies are held against collapse smallwards by the robust durability of genetic structures which embody all the patterns needed to sustain our biological integrity against the entropy within the flow of energy and resources through our ecological niches. Mental integrity is maintained in analogous manner by means of the robust durability of meme structures embodied in neural networks and whatever emergent super-neural structures they entail.
Atoms are replaced in DNA as well as neurons. There is the passive replacement mechanism whereby chemicals in solution exchange atoms with their environment, and more gross changes where the structural integrity of important macromolecules is compromised and either is repaired by specific mechanisms or the cell dies (eg. look up "DNA repair" in Wikipedia). In any case, even if this were not so and the DNA molecule were kept in some sort of protective case and read off with a laser beam so that it was never sullied by direct contact with the environment, what difference would it make if every such protected molecule were replaced with an exact copy? An atom is an atom: the hydrogen atoms in your body are the same as each other and the same as the hydrogen atoms in interstellar space.
* Destructive teleportation differs from normal life in that it entails the [as yet unlawful] killing of a person whose body is dismembered in a very high resolution process during the course of a magical ceremony, after which there soon arrives postcards and news from a person in a faraway place claiming to be the deceased and wanting access to his/her money box. The police and other authorities in that far away place, when asked and paid, will provide evidence that the healthy body of the person who turned up there during a magical ceremony matches the fingerprint, DNA and polygraph signatures of the deceased. They will also report that she/he is suffering from culture shock, but otherwise seems OK. All of these facts point to our day to day experience of survival being very much a social and cultural construct in which we believe, no more and no less.
What matters in survival is that you remain you, just as you do in the course of normal life. What happens in the course of normal life is that gradually aimost all the atoms in your body are replaced. If they were not lost, but collected where they fell and their relative arrangement to each other maintained, there would be at least one copy of you thus collected every few months to years. This copy normally disintegrates, so you don't notice his death. The main difference between normal life and what we have been calling destructive teleportation (apart from the spatial displacement, which is why I made the aliens duplicate you in your bed) is that in the latter, it happens quickly and is supposed to be much more exact. And why should it make any difference to you if it is revealed that the atoms of your body were replaced all at once or gradually over time? How would you react if your wife shunned you because you are not, literally, the man she married but only an approximate copy who believes he is the same man?
* It therefore seems apparent that problems and conundrums raised by the destructive teleporter/biofax machines are based understood by recognising that our experience of being here now and seeming to be the same person from day to day, indeed from moment to moment, is what it is like to be a description of a person, although I would say that the qualia aspect is actually what it is like to be the updating of the description. It was ever thus.
That's right - and the experience of living your life from day to day would not be disrupted by destructive teleportation. Non-destructive teleportation, or if the atoms in your body a year ago were kept and their relative positions maintained, would be a different matter. Stathis Papaioannou _________________________________________________________________ Be one of the first to try Windows Live Mail. http://ideas.live.com/programpage.aspx?versionId=5d21c51a-b161-4314-9b0e-4911fb2b2e6d --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to email@example.com To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED] For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---