X-Message-Number: 18011
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 23:37:54 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Relevance Question, Identity

Thomas Donaldson, #17996:
>... would Mike Perry and the others taking up
>this topic tell me why the notion of a person being in several
>places but still the same person, at the same time, bears on

In general, informational issues bear on cryonics, because we are concerned 
with whether a person can be reanimated from frozen remains, and what would 
constitute successful reanimation. It is not hard to show how this brings 
up the problem of duplicates.

Suppose, for instance, that you found a lot of damaged tissue in the 
remains but could still infer "what ought to be there." In your repair 
work, you replace some of the old tissue with similar but new tissue, made 
of different atoms. (Indeed some of the old tissue may be missing anyway, 
so long as the necessary information is still inferable.) Do you then get 
the "same person" after a presumably successful reanimation? You can raise 
the same question for the case that you replace all the original tissue. Is 
it still the same person? Some of us like myself, who favor the 
"information paradigm" or IP, would conclude that it is. But this would 
allow the production of duplicates, and we must confront the problem of 
duplicates in its various forms. Can we still uphold an information-based 
notion of identity?

One case of duplicates, a bit farfeched but possible in principle, would 
have several person-constructs (I would call them instantiations) awake and 
functioning just alike only in different locations. (I could imagine this 
being done in the future with intercommunicating nanites who are able to 
achieve the necessary, coordinated functioning in the different 
constructs.) This would mean, for instance, that each is perceiving and 
feeling just alike and is unaware of any special conditions that would 
distinguish him or her from any of the others. Now, suppose these 
constructs are all put into suspended animation, still all identical. If I 
make another copy and wake it up, then by the IP I should have reanimated 
one of these--but which one? One way to resolve the question is to regard 
them all, when they were awake and functioning alike, as comprising one 
person only, though multiply instantiated. So we only have one person to be 
concerned with and can say, without paradox, that that person is 
reanimated. Objections can be raised, of course, but this position can be 
defended, as I do in my book.

>As for identity, ... that is a matter of definition.

I agree.

Endless best to all,
Mike Perry

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