X-Message-Number: 1026
Subject: CRYONICS Identity question & FAQ list
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 92 10:32:36 -0400

(Do not forward to sci.cryonics.)

I have a confession to make: I think the issue of identity is stupid.
I'm not the same person I was yesterday, and I won't be the same
person if and when I'm revived or uploaded or whatever.  The notion of
"I" isn't in my ultimate model of what's going on or in my ultimate
goals, although I use it as a convenient fiction sometimes (such as
this sentence).

Since questions about identity come up so often in discussions about
cryonics, I feel obligated to say something in the FAQ list.  The
answer that is in the current draft is designed to expedite the
conversation, rather than to satisfy anyone's intuition.  I don't see
any point in putting my true beliefs as an answer to the question,
because no one will be persuaded by them, and they will be perceived
as too weird.

So what can we do about this?  We need to address the issue, we
obviously aren't going to arrive at a consensus, and I'm not competent
to write the answer myself.  The only option I see is to accumulate
several distinct responses to the question, and to put a
representative sample of them in.

So, please send other options, or answers to the question

   When are two people the same person?

to me ().  Answers from someone who has signed up and
believes they have a soul, or someone who expects to upload and
believes they have a self, are especially welcome.  Here are the
answers I have so far:

   Two people are the same if they remember the same childhood, and
   the process by which they came to remember the same childhood also
   copied most of their other memories and skills.  (This is in the
   current draft.  It is definite enough to use as a basis for the
   conversation, but I don't expect it to fit with people's
   intuitions.  It falls apart if people get to the point where they can
   remember multiple childhoods, or if they discard their own memory of
   their childhood.  Also, what is a childhood, and what is memory?)

   The identity question has nothing to do with cryonics, so we need not deal
   with it.  The same issues arise in dealing with people who have
   partial amnesia, stroke damage, brain diseases, etc.  (Paraphrased
   from Brian Wowk.   This works if you're a materialist and you hope
   your brain will be repaired.  It doesn't help much if you expect to be
   uploaded, or if you believe in souls.  It also doesn't work if
   you're befuddled about partial amnesia, etc.) 

   The answer to this question doesn't matter.  (This is not going
   into the final draft, though.)

   Two people are the same if they own the same things.  (Only
   appropriate for designing libertarian societies with nonbiological
   citizens.  Not going into the final draft.)


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