Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
Todman (Theo)
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Write-up2 (as at 26/01/2022 14:51:22): Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)

  • Any discussion of personal identity needs to give an account of what is going on in the various thought experiments that have been considered relevant to the topic.
  • It’s also the area that’s most fun. Indeed, I think that the entire Thesis will be an exercise in inference to the best explanation of what’s going on in these thought experiments.
  • Any theory of Personal Identity needs to account for our intuitions (if there is a universal response) or explain them away as confused.
  • I will briefly consider the propriety of using thought experiments in this domain of enquiry, and then consider the usual suspects.

Research Methodology
  • Follow this Link3 for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
  • The method is broken down into 16, possibly iterative, stages, some of which have sub-stages.
  • Follow this Link4 for my progress dashboard on these tasks.

Chapter Introduction
  1. In this chapter we will consider all the usual suspects, as itemised in the list of Notes and text below.
  2. This is a long Chapter, and starts with a general discussion of Thought Experiments5 – though further consideration will need to be given at the end of the Chapter in the light of the discussion of examples – because some philosophers maintain that our Concepts6 were not designed to work in situations far from those in which they were developed. This objection does – in this context – seem to suggest that questions of Personal Identity are merely Semantic7 rather than matters of fact. So, it’s worth giving the method a go, to test our Intuitions8 – though I think these should be modifiable in the light of this theoretical experience as well as well as guiding our interpretation of these TEs.
  3. The TE that I have found the most useful – and the first I came across – is Bernard Williams’s Future Great Pain Test9, as it forces us to take maybe glib intuitions seriously.
  4. It is to be noted that some – for instance Commissurotomy – are more actual experiments than thought-experiments, though quite a lot of armchair thinking is involved in working out their import. Consequently, I’ve made this distinction in the list below. We start with the ‘actuals’.
  5. Clones10 are relevant in distinguishing Identity from exact Similarity11, and for confuting those who think that we are Information12.
  6. This leads directly on to Fission13, including a natural example thereof, namely Twinning14, which may be a special case of Duplication15. This whole nexus is important to the Reduplication Objection16 to certain putative cases of persistence, where there is, or can be, more than one Survivor17.
  7. Pregnancy18 and birth in placental mammals – as we discussed in Chapter 819 – might be described as Fusion20 (when the Zygote21 implants) followed by Fission22 (when the umbilical cord is cut).
  8. Organ Transplants23 are clear – though maybe not very exciting – examples of Fusion24 involving Human Animals25, which nevertheless need to be given an account by Animalism26.
  9. Otherwise, it is not clear whether there are any further naturally-occurring cases of Fusion27 relevant to personal Identity. The obvious possibilities are the pathological cases of conjoined twins covered by my note on the extreme case of Dicephalus28, though it’s unclear whether these are cases of incomplete Fission29 or incomplete Fusion30.
  10. Finally under this discussion of ‘natural’ TEs are Psychopathological31 cases. I have a general Note on Clinical Observations32 to cover this area, with specific Notes on Commissurotomy33 and Multiple Personality Disorder34. Both are putatively examples of Fission35 on the PV36, but of little concern to Animalism37. Multiple Personality Disorder38 might be better situated in Chapter 939 as a critique of the idea of an individuating First-Person Perspective40.
  11. We then move to the various ‘artificial’ TEs. The first of these – Brain Transplants41 – come in various forms. We need to distinguish Whole-Brain Transplants (WBTs) from single or double Cerebrum transplants, and these from brain-tissue transplants. Brain Transplants are vastly more difficult to perform than Head Transplants, which have allegedly been around the corner for some years. All these options are covered by the same Note42 but I have another on Brains in Vats43 which fall into the same general area.
  12. The above TEs maybe shade off into Siliconisation44, which is the gradual replacement of organic brain tissue by computer chips, though what can be deduced from such TEs without begging lots of questions is unclear.
  13. We then get to my favourite – Teletransportation45, which – at best – I take to be an example of Replication46 (which may be the same as Duplication47, only more tendentiously-termed.
  14. Finally, I’ve added the hopes of Transhumanism48 as a coda to the Chapter, though it might be combined with the previous section. Transhumanism is a very wide topic, and is different to the other notions, in which we are and remain wholly organic. I’ve divided these hopes into those that are ‘nearby’ and those that are ‘far off’.
  15. The ‘nearby’ hopes include Chimeras49, which involves a kind of Fusion50 of animals of different species; either xenotransplants – which have been ‘actual’ for many decades – or the importation of human DNA into non-human animals for organ forming, or other reasons. The latter raise questions about the Ontological and Moral status of the DNA-recipients.
  16. The second case in this section is that of Cyborgs51, which have inorganic somatic augmentation; this may also be ‘actual’ to a limited degree, though not to the degree sought by the Transhumanists.
  17. Finally, we have the less imminent hopes – in particular Uploading52 to Computers53 – which I find very unlikely, and not even desirable. But if it turns out to be possible, we might end up as Androids; just adding a robot body to a computer mind. If uploading turns out to be practically or metaphysically impossible, we might still have Androids completely discontinuous from human beings, though modelled on them.

Links to Notes
  1. Thought Experiments54
    1. Intuition55
    2. Future Great Pain Test56
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones57
    2. Fission58
    3. Fusion62
    4. Psychopathology66
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer70
    2. Brain Transplants71
    3. Siliconisation74
    4. Teletransportation75
  4. Transhumanism77
    1. Nearby Hopes
    2. Far Off Hopes

Main Text
  1. Thought Experiments83
    1. Text to be supplied.
    1. Intuition84
      1. Text to be supplied.
    2. Future Great Pain Test85
      1. Text to be supplied.
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones86
      1. Text to be supplied.
    2. Fission87
      1. Text to be supplied.
    3. Fusion91
      1. Text to be supplied.
    4. Psychopathology95
      1. Text to be supplied.
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer99
      1. Text to be supplied.
    2. Brain Transplants100
      1. Text to be supplied.
    3. Siliconisation103
      1. Text to be supplied.
    4. Teletransportation104
      1. Text to be supplied.
  4. Transhumanism106
    1. Text to be supplied.
    1. Nearby Hopes
    2. Far Off Hopes

Concluding Remarks
  1. Having now discussed Thought Experiments in general, we now in our next Chapter112 turn to the question of Resurrection – the matter that first motivated Locke (and – I suspect – Lynne Rudder Baker and many others) in their discussions of Personal Identity.

Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed113
  1. This section attempts to derive the readings lists automatically from those of the underlying Notes, but removing duplicated references. The list is divided into:-
  2. There must be many more papers on Brain State Transfers than the classic one by Williams (and commentaries thereon) – I just haven’t got them correctly categorised. Under this head should be included references to “Brain Zaps” and the like.
  3. Siliconisation must be covered somewhere in "Unger (Peter) - Identity, Consciousness and Value", where it is referred to as “zippering”. I intend to re-read this book as part of the work for Chapter 1116, so I will find it then, I hope.

Works on this topic that I’ve actually read117, include the following:-
  1. Thought Experiments
    1. Thought Experiments118
    2. Intuition122
    3. Future Great Pain Test125
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones126
    2. Fission
    3. Fusion
    4. Psychopathology
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer147
    2. Brain Transplants148
    3. Siliconisation151
    4. Teletransportation153
  4. Transhumanism
    1. Transhumanism160
    2. Nearby Hopes
    3. Far Off Hopes

A further reading list might start with:-
  1. Thought Experiments
    1. Thought Experiments170
    2. Intuition172
    3. Future Great Pain Test181
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones182
    2. Fission
    3. Fusion
    4. Psychopathology
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer196
    2. Brain Transplants197
    3. Siliconisation198
    4. Teletransportation199
  4. Transhumanism
    1. Transhumanism201
    2. Nearby Hopes
    3. Far Off Hopes

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (26/01/2022 14:51:22).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 65:
  • This Note will be excluded from the Reading List for this Chapter.
  • It is included in the Reading List for Chapter 8.
Footnote 73:
  • This Note will be excluded from the Reading List for this Chapter.
  • It is included in the Reading List for Chapter 2.
Footnote 94:
  • This Note will be excluded from the Reading List for this Chapter.
  • It is included in the Reading List for Chapter 8.
Footnote 102:
  • This Note will be excluded from the Reading List for this Chapter.
  • It is included in the Reading List for Chapter 2.
Footnote 113:
  • See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
Footnote 127:
  • This is even less relevant than Nussbaum – being a novel. It raises ethical questions in a futuristic situation.
Footnote 136: Footnote 146:
  • MPD is referenced in my comments only!
Footnote 149:
  • While mostly about other matters, this article reminds us that “brains and bodies develop together”, so simply removing a brain and trying to plug it into another body won’t necessarily work, however good we are at the wiring.
Footnote 150: Footnote 152:
  • Tye seems to be discussing brain-partition, with silicon transceivers. But he uses Unger’s term “zippering”.
  • He is indebted to Arnold Zuboff, who may be worth following up.
Footnote 155: Footnote 156:
  • This is a useful head-count on contemporary philosophers’ views on surviving teletransportation.
  • See my comment therein.
Footnote 157:
  • Restrict a close reading to Part 3 (Personal Identity).
Footnote 163:
  • Some vaguely interesting historical background.
Footnote 166:
  • I’ve read this book, but it’s insufficiently philosophical for its arguments – such as they are – to be worth considering as a priority.
Footnote 171:
  • This paper is of much wider import than TEs, but it shows a famous TE in action, together this trenchant criticisms and defences thereof.
Footnotes 173, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180:
  • Philosophy of mathematics & logic.
Footnote 174:
  • I’ve not listed the individual papers in this book.
Footnote 183:
  • This book is concerned with the ethics of medical cloning, so is mostly tangential to my concerns.
  • However, the items in Part I: Science, and Part II: Commentary are likely to be of use.
Footnote 189:
  • This looks like an important paper, which rejects the “proofs” of 4D based on the “coincidence” TEs.
Footnote 194:
  • There are other papers on this topic by Michael S. Gazzaniga that I’ve not had time to collect yet.
Footnote 206: Footnote 207:
  • This paper no doubt considers the use of computers for simulating situations other than minds, so might not be directly relevant.
Footnote 208: Footnote 209:
  • This seems somewhat tangential, as it’s not focused on simulating persons, but it might be useful background.
Footnote 210:
  • There’s quite a lot by Searle that is relevant, but it’s important not to get dragged in too far into his “outlier” perspective – unless, of course, he’s right!
  • It may be best to start with the whole of the book from which this paper is taken, ie. "Searle (John) - Minds, Brains and Science: The 1984 Reith Lectures".
Footnote 211: Footnote 213:
  • This is very elementary, but short and maybe entertaining.

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