X-Message-Number: 25276
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 14:45:58 EST
Subject: Fungibles

Mike Perry's book FOREVER FOR ALL has a chapter  on  "interchangeability" and 
he seems to base much of his view on the ramifications  of this, concluding 
(as I read it) that sufficiently similar "instantiations" or  copies of a 

particular person share identity and the survival of any copy would  constitute
survival of the person.
However, interchangeability or fungibility is not the same as identity.  
One-dollar bills are fungible for most practical purposes--one is as good  as 
another--although they are clearly distinct, even bearing individual serial  
Electrons don't have serial numbers or labels (as far as we know, although  

Liebniz thought differently), and for most purposes one is as good as another.
But beta rays can exist at different locations at the same time, and have  
different trajectories, so for some purposes they are clearly not the same. 
Current physics does not allow a clear conclusion, but  it seems  possible 
that a person's total quantum state might be  "instantiated" at different 

locations in spacetime, and there might even be a  person-segment (succession of

quantum states over a limited period of time)  exactly or sufficiently the same

at those locations, so "the" person might live  a multiple life or portion of a
Mike's basic conclusion, if I read him correctly, is that the "person" is  

"defined" by his subjective experiences, and therefore if two or more separate
physical systems (brains) have the same set or sequence of experiences over 
some  time span, then they are "instantiations" of the "same" person or  
As far as I can see, that viewpoint accomplishes nothing. It is just  

asserting a definition, creating your own lexicon. I fail to see why I should be

either comforted or distressed by the fate of an exact copy, as compared to the
fate of a slightly inexact copy--and there are already many people alive who 
are  enough like me to elicit empathy. (Many mammals and birds, for that  
matter.) I fail to see why the continuation of an exact copy, after my death,  
should be any more use to me than the continuation of inexact copies, or even  
just similar people. 
In short, as far as I can see, the only things that "should" touch me,  

psychologically or motivationally, are those that literally, physically touch  
namely, my physical overlaps, my material predecessors and continuers. There  
are no fungibles.
Robert Ettinger

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