X-Message-Number: 25353
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 21:50:45 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Survival and Interchangeability
References: <>

Here I reply to Robert Ettinger's posting, #25276, commenting on 
"Interchangeability" (ch. 7) in my book, *Forever for All*:

>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 
>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

My basic position is that *all* sentient beings should elicit empathy (in 
due proportion of course). I'm not sure what the difficulty is here.

>  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 
>just similar people.

The patternist position I take, identifying a person with their 
(sufficiently) exact copies, in effect makes the person a kind of 
equivalence class. (This is fungibility--or "interchangeability" as I call 
it.) It means that a continuer of one is a continuer of all. So wherever 
such a continuer occurs, it means "you" have survived. But of course "you" 
will also fission into many individuals, under the different circumstances 
in which the continuers arise, with the associated probability-weights. But 
in this way some form of survival after death is guaranteed. (Your choosing 
cryonics, however, will so adjust the probabilities as to generally produce 
a better outcome for these continuers, I have argued.) The continuers 
themselves will decide what "use" their past selves are to them. In one 
sense it is just an illusion that any of your continuers are of "use" to 
you or "are" you (that you perish each instant is not scientifically 
refuted). But the illusion is a very natural one with the practical 
consequence that you tend to act in ways that will be favorable toward 
these continuers, who in turn feel "they" made good choices in the past. 
(And in another sense they are right, it *was* their past self, you as you 
are now perhaps, who made these choices--as you suggest, it's a matter of 
definition, a good choice of definition, however, to my mind.)

>  In short, as far as I can see, the only things that "should" touch me,
>psychologically or motivationally, are those that literally, physically 
>touch  me,
>namely, my physical overlaps, my material predecessors and continuers. There
>are no fungibles.

To me, though, the "me" itself is spread over multiple, 
identically-experiencing constructs in the multiverse. What physically 
touches me is also multiply instantiated, and there are indeed fungibles.

Mike Perry

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