Personal Identity

This issue has been bothering me for quite some time so I decided to seek some opinions here on this board in hope to get a sensible solution. So, here it goes.
Let’s imagine that we have a technology which allows us to make a precise copy of a human being, not only with the same body but with all the memories and experiences that it’s brain contains. Now, I suggest a thought experiment in which a human being (let it be me) is rendered unconscious and killed with overdose of anaesthetics and then replaced with the exact copy of himself (i.e. myself). The question is: would I wake up in this new body without noticing myself having been killed and replaced or would I cease to exist that copy of myself being a new person?
To me it seems obvious that it’s not the physical body but it’s informational content that constitutes a personality, so my hunch is that I would survive that experiment and continue to exist as the same person.
But it seems weird and paradoxical, what do you think?

I don’t think it is at all weird and/or paradoxical, but being atheist I don’t believe in souls. If someone did then there might be philosophical issues with what happens to the soul. Of course Me2 would wake up and feel that nothing out of the ordinary had happened; nothing out of the ordinary did happen in his experience. I also don’t think it would be weird or paradoxical if you didn’t kill Me1 and instead let both Me1 and Me2 go on living; you’ve just got two people with identical memories.

Does this have a factual answer?

At the risk of precipitating a move to Cafe Society, there was a ST:TNG episode where exactly this was done. Riker was duplicated by a transporter accident, but one copy was “left behind” on the away mission. Both copies thought they were the only one, and were identical up to that moment. But they of course started to diverge immediately.

That’s exactly what I was getting at, but you forestalled me.
If we take a closer look at this scenario we’ll see that the outcome is really bizarre!
Suppose Me1 and Me2 go on leaving, Me1 waking up in room1 and Me2 waking up in room2 at approximately the same time. What room exactly I would wake up?

Also in Voyager when the ship was duplicated in another dimension and one was destroyed but Kim and Naomi Wildman got off it and into the other one — after their doppelgangers had been killed there.

And not a second too soon.

The two of you would wake up, one in each room. Your last sentence above is incorrect - it should say “What room exactly would we wake up [in]”

Man About Town’s admirably clear and coherent question is a philosophical one whether one believes in souls or not; indeed, it is one that has been, and continues to be, much argued over (in much the same form) by professional academic philosophers. Most of them, I can tell you with some confidence, do not believe in souls. Agreement about the non-existence of souls does not get you very far at all toward agreement about the actual issues in question.

Of course, no generally accepted conclusions have as yet emerged from this discussion (if they had, we would be calling the arguments from which they emerged science, not philosophy), and no generally accepted conclusions are going to emerge here on the SDMB either: in other words, this belongs in GD, not GQ.

Souls might not be the right concept, but if not I don’t know of a word for what I am referring to. My belief that there is no paradox is predicated on my belief that your thoughts, feelings, consciousness, etc. are based purely and completely in the activity in your physical brain, not something transcendent, supernatural, metaphysical, or whatever the appropriate adjective is. Hence, if you can duplicate someone precisely then there is nothing paradoxical in the OP’s thought-experiment; you simply have two people with identical memories; it is meaningless to talk about which one is the original and which is the copy; they are both the original/copy.

Yes, I must apologize for my imperfect English, because it’s not my first language.

But what do you mean by “WE wake up”? Do yo imply that I would wake up in two rooms simultaneously?

Sorry; I wasn’t meaning to be critical, I was just completing your sentence. What was incorrect was you saying “I” when in fact the duplication implied that you were now “We”.

The one of you goes to sleep, gets duplicated, and the two of you wake up, one in each room.

Won’t be answering again until at least tomorrow.

I think in such a case, the original person loses consciousness forever–dies, in other words. Then, as you stipulated, a new person exactly like the original person arises, memories and all. And for this reason, the original person, despite the fact that he died, has (had) nothing to complain about. Since everything he cares about will continue to be cared about in exactly the same way, he should undergo the process without compunction. Because what can he possibly care about, other than what he cares about?

It turns out, in the scenario you describe, death isn’t a big deal.

That’s right, of course, from YOUR perspective!
But what would I feel after duplication?? From my point of view, what would I see after wakening up? Room1 or room2?

It all depends on whether you’re Me1 or Me2. Per the OP, you’re Me1. It doesn’t matter how many copies have been made of you. If Me1 dies, you are dead and if Me1 wakes up in room 1, you wake up in room 1. Me2 thinks that he’s you, and perhaps has the same internal experience that you would have had, and your intents and wishes would be going forward, but he’s a copy, not you. This is why keeping the paperwork straight is so important.

In the case of Riker’s transporter accident, were they able to conceptually assign one or the other of them as the original? I don’t think they were. That’s a much stickier question.

ETA - I wouldn’t want to go through a process where Me1 dies. I like my experience and don’t care if someone else gets to have it. If I don’t have it any more, that’s my loss.

You’d wake up in the same room you went to sleep in–room 1.

Another guy who feels just like you would wake up in room 2.

And if you’d died in your sleep, you would have suffered no harm because of the existence of the guy in room 2. But that doesn’t mean you would have survived.

BTW what I’m saying in this thread is almost completely the opposite of anything I’ve ever said on the topic before. Weird. Yet here I am, believing it all of a sudden.

Is a loss that no one experiences really a loss?

Both persons would wake up, each separately thinking ‘I am this one’.

I, personally, care about whether I will wake up tomorrow or not? :slight_smile:

Ok, it seems almost everyone thinks that I would wake up as Me1 or otherwise die forever.
But what is it in my essence that makes myself different from Me2?

Assuming you survive the night, the person that wakes up in the morning will remember having been you today, but the you of today will not exist here any more, because today won’t still exist.

The question posed in this thread pretty much amounts to: “If we change the way things work, how will they still work the same?” - Answer: they won’t.