X-Message-Number: 21017
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 19:34:52 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Continuers and "Sameness"

Thomas Donaldson says, in response to my recent posting:

>The main point I was making about "continuer" was that it was your
>personal choice, not an attribute about the world. My suggestion
>of an alternative was aimed at defining a form of identity which
>might satisfy YOU. If you don't feel that your "continuer" must
>be in any sense the same as you now, then that's fine.

I'm not sure what gave the impression that I didn't feel the continuer 
should be the "same" in some sense. It *should* be the same--but in *which* 
sense? It is that I and my continuer should exhibit what in certain 
philosophical circles is called psychological connectedness, and of a 
particular sort (just any variety won't do). My continuer should, ideally, 
have all my present memories and knowledge, and treat those as its own, and 
additionally should have other experiences and/or knowledge, so that it is 
a more advanced version of me, and sees itself as such. Normally this 
occurs simply as I grow older, so that, in addition to psychological 
connectedness, the continuer would exhibit two other properties, (1) 
physical and (2) psychological continuity with the present version of me. 
(Physical continuity means that the physical body progresses only by 
gradual changes from earlier to later versions of what is considered the 
self. Psychological continuity similarly means that mental changes must be 
gradual. Sudden jumps are disallowed in both cases.)

Physical and psychological continuity are normal traits and, I think, also 
normally desirable, but not, in my view, absolutely essential. As an 
illustration focusing on physical continuity, we could imagine a future 
scenario in which the original atoms are, for one reason or another, 
exchanged for other, similar atoms while one is unconscious. This could 
happen as one a step in a cryonic revival, if it turns out that alternative 
procedures are more risky in terms of likely information loss (or have 
other downsides such as being extra lengthy and/or expensive). It might be 
that, for maximum informational fidelity, the revival procedure must invoke 
some form of destructive information-gathering from the original remains. 
Some heavy-duty computations with this information could then establish a 
description of the fully restored and cured patient. Following this the 
cured patient could be physically realized by building a replica, or 
alternatively, by uploading the information in an advanced computational 
device and activating it as what we would call a "program." Either way, 
physical continuity would have been sacrificed, but this would be worth the 
price to me if psychological connectedness was thereby conserved. I realize 
that this is not a universally held view among cryonicists, and there are 
some who, by appearances, would want just the opposite, that is to say, to 
first conserve physical continuity as far as possible, then worry about 
psychological connectedness.

>Basically "continuer" works like "descendant", except that
>you want to say that you descended from a previous version of
>yourself. If you don't like any notion that you are the same,
>that's fine too.

Again, I do like and respect *a* notion that I am the same, though this 
"sameness" has certain limits (and in particular does not satisfy the 
transitive property of equivalence). I hope the above makes this position 

Mike Perry

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