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Personal Identity

Brain State Transfer

(Text as at 18/08/2009 20:39:50)

(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)


The idea that we can, even in principle, copy the information from a brain1 to a backup device and then restore it to another (or the same) brain - as in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future" - without changing the identity of that brain seems fanciful to me. This is partly because I am antipathetic to functionalism2. The information stored in brains appears to be in highly distributed representations along connectionist lines rather than according to classical AI. The very physical structure of the brain changes along with what it represents. There is no simple software / hardware distinction in a realistic psychology3 of human beings.

Consequently, this is a case of an under-specified TE4 that Wilkes so objects to. When we try to flesh out the details, we find that the TE doesn’t really work. Any backup will need to be molecule by molecule to retain the informational richness of the original, and consequently any restore will not really simply modify the existing brain, but will destroy it and replace it with a replica5 of the brain whose contents are supposedly being transferred. It will not simply feed information into a pre-existing brain.

Hence, I now think that Williams’s intuitions about the post-transfer A-body-person remaining a “mixed up” A-person are incorrect. Nor does A-body-person end up as B, but as a fusion of a confused replica of B’s brain and A’s body6. The situation is best described as a transplant7 of (maybe only part of) a replica of B’s brain into A-body-person’s head.



Printable Versions:



Table of the Previous 2 Versions of this Note:

Date Length Title
26/11/2007 23:25:26 1339 Brain State Transfer
12/08/2007 10:17:46 1089 Brain State Transfer



Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
18/08/2009 20:39:50 Brain State Transfer Thought Experiments

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Body Brain Brain Transplants Functionalism Psychology
Replication Thought Experiments      

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.




Summary of Note Links to this Page

Animalism Body Closest Continuer Homo Sapiens Johnston - Human Beings
Reduplication Objections Research - Proposal Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments) Thesis - Outline  

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.




Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

Author Title Medium Extra Links Read?
Dainton (Barry) Self: Philosophy In Transit: Prologue Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Ehring (Douglas) Personal Identity and Time Travel Paper Medium Quality Abstract 2 Yes
Johnston (Mark) Human Beings Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Olson (Eric) Psychology and Personal Identity Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Olson (Eric) Why We Need Not Accept the Psychological Approach Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Animalism Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Body Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Brain State Transfer Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Closest Continuer Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Homo Sapiens Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Reduplication Objections Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes



References & Reading List

Author Title Medium Source Read?
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Brain State Transfer Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Williams (Bernard) Problems of the Self Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Low Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied 55%
Williams (Bernard) The Self and the Future Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Williams - Problems of the Self Yes



Text Colour Conventions

  1. Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018




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