On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 11:58 AM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Consider the following thought experiment, called "The Duplicators":
>
> At 1:00 PM tomorrow, you will be abducted by aliens. The aliens will tell
> you not to worry, that you won't be harmed but they wish to conduct some
> experiments on the subject of pain, which is unknown to them. These aliens
> possess technology far in advance of our own. They have the ability to scan
> and replicate objects down to the atomic level and the aliens use this
> technology to create an atom-for-atom duplicate of yourself, which they call
> you2. The aliens thank you for your assistance and return you unharmed back
> to your home by 5:00 PM. You ask them "What about the pain experiments?" and
> they hand you an informational pamphlet and quickly fly off. You read the
> pamphlet which explains that a duplicate of you (you2) was created and
> subjected to some rather terrible pain experiments, akin to what humans call
> torture and at the end of the experiment you2 was euthanized. You consider
> this awful, but are nonetheless glad that they tortured your duplicate
> rather than you.
>
> Now consider the slightly different thought experiment, called "The
> Restorers":
>
> At 1:00 PM tomorrow, you will be abducted by aliens. Unlike the aliens with
> the duplication technology (the duplicators), these aliens possess a
> restorative technology. They can perfectly erase memories and all other
> physical traces to perfectly restore you to a previous state. The aliens
> will tell you not to worry, that you won't be harmed but they wish to
> conduct some experiments on the subject of pain, which is unknown to them.
> They then proceed to brutually torture you for many hours, conducting test
> after test on pain. Afterwards, they erase your memory of the torture and
> all traces of injury and stress from your body. When they are finished, you
> are atom-for-atom identical to how you were before the torture began. The
> aliens thank you for your assistance and return you unharmed back to your
> home by 5:00 PM. You ask them "What about the pain experiments?" and they
> hand you an informational pamphlet and quickly fly off. You read the
> pamphlet which explains that a duplicate of you (you2) was created and
> subjected to some rather terrible pain experiments, akin to what humans call
> torture and at the end of the experiment you2 was euthenized. You consider
> this awful, but are nonetheless glad that they tortured your duplicate
> rather than you.
>
> My questions for the list:
>
> 1. Do you consider yourself to have experienced the torture in the case of
> the Restorers, even though you no longer remember it?  If not, why not.
>
> 2. If yes, do you consider yourself to have experienced the torture in the
> case of the Duplicators?  If yes, please explain, if not, please explain.
>
> 3. If you could choose which aliens would abduct you, is there one you would
> prefer?  If you have a preference, please provide some justification.

The two experiments are equivalent. Rationally, you should not have a
preference for either - though both are bad in that you experience
pain but then forget it.

-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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