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Personal Identity

Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)

(Work In Progress: output at 20/11/2022 18:02:20)

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Abstract




Research Methodology


Chapter Introduction3
  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 Experiments4 – 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 Concepts 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 Semantic rather than matters of fact. So, it’s worth giving the method a go, to test our Intuitions5 – 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 Test6, 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. Clones7 are relevant in distinguishing Identity from exact Similarity, and for confuting those who think that we are Information.
  6. This leads directly on to Fission8, including a natural example thereof, namely Twinning9, which may be a special case of Duplication10. This whole nexus is important to the Reduplication Objection11 to certain putative cases of persistence, where there is, or can be, more than one Survivor.
  7. Pregnancy and birth in placental mammals – as we discussed in Chapter 8 – might be described as Fusion12 (when the Zygote implants) followed by Fission (when the umbilical cord is cut).
  8. Organ Transplants13 are clear – though maybe not very exciting – examples of Fusion involving Human Animals, which nevertheless need to be given an account by Animalism.
  9. Otherwise, it is not clear whether there are any further naturally-occurring cases of Fusion relevant to personal Identity. The obvious possibilities are the pathological cases of conjoined twins covered by my Note on the extreme case of Dicephalus, though it’s unclear whether these are cases of incomplete Fission or incomplete Fusion.
  10. Finally under this discussion of ‘natural’ TEs are Psychopathological14 cases. I have a general Note on Clinical Observations15 to cover this area, with specific Notes on Commissurotomy16 and Multiple Personality Disorder17. Both are putatively examples of Fission on the Psychological View, but of little concern to Animalism. Multiple Personality Disorder might be better situated in Chapter 9 as a critique of the idea of an individuating First-Person Perspective.
  11. We then move to the various ‘artificial’ TEs, starting with Brain State Transfers18. Then come Brain Transplants19, which 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 Note but I have another on Brains in Vats which fall into the same general area.
  12. The above TEs maybe shade off into Siliconisation20, 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. For a bit of light relief, I’ve added a general consideration of Dracula21, particularly of the various metamorphoses he’s supposed to be able to undergo.
  14. We then get to my favourite – Teletransportation22, which – at best – I take to be an example of Replication23 (which may be the same as Duplication, only more tendentiously-termed).
  15. Finally, I’ve added the hopes of Transhumanism24 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’.
  16. The ‘nearby’ hopes include Chimeras25, which involves a kind of Fusion 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.
  17. The second case in this section is that of Cyborgs26, which have inorganic somatic augmentation; this may also be ‘actual’ to a limited degree, though not to the degree sought by the Transhumanists.
  18. Finally, we have the less imminent hopes – in particular Uploading27 to Computers28 – which I find very unlikely, and not even desirable. But if it turns out to be possible, we might end up as Androids29; 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.


Note Hierarchy
  1. Thought Experiments30
    1. Intuition31
    2. Future Great Pain Test32
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones33
    2. Fission34
    3. Fusion38
    4. Psychopathology42
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer46
    2. Brain Transplants47
    3. Siliconisation50
    4. Dracula51
    5. Teletransportation52
  4. Transhumanism54
    1. Nearby Hopes
    2. Far Off Hopes



Main Text
  1. Thought Experiments60
    1. In general, I’m in favour of using thought experiments in philosophy.
    2. However, I’d like to consider – following "Wilkes (Kathleen) - Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments" – whether some thought-experiments in pursuit of clarifying issues in personal identity
      1. Propose impossible scenarios,
      2. Trade on under-specification, or
      3. Put us in circumstances where our concepts61 no longer apply (or where we could no longer play the appropriate language-game using them – see "Gale (Richard) - On Some Pernicious Thought-Experiments").
    3. Sometimes our intuitions62 are unreliable as to the truth or possibility of what we intuit.
      1. Some doubt the possible phenomenal consciousness63 of artificial systems64, however complex, but is this anything other than a fallacious argument from personal incredulity?
      2. Descartes65 argued for the real distinction66 between mind67 and body68 by thinking he could imagine their separation, but could he really?
      3. Sometimes, our intuitions69 may give us no clue one way or the other, or only a gentle lead (as Williams seems to be suggesting in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future").
    4. "Snowdon (Paul) - Personal Identity and Brain Transplants" gives a helpful critique of Wilkes’s and Johnston’s (see "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings") arguments against thought experiments.
    5. "Wilson (Jack) - Beyond Horses and Oak Trees: A New Theory of Individuation for Living Entities" thinks that TEs should be avoided where possible, and real examples used. At least in actual circumstances we know that the situation is possible70 (“actual implies possible”), and we know, or can discover, all the background conditions.
    6. The trouble is that there may not be enough naturally-occurring situations, or practically or ethically available experimental circumstances, to provide the occasions to put maximum pressure on our concepts71.
    7. Then again, were our concepts72 designed to be put on the rack? What would their failure really tell us?
    8. The topic of Transhumanism73 is replete with TEs, given that the expected advances are yet to take place.
    1. Intuition74
      1. The topic of Philosophical Intuition is somewhat related to that of Thought Experiments75.
      2. I decided to give this topic its individual note in response to "Clark (Andy) & Kuhn (Robert Lawrence) - Aeon: Video - Andy Clark - Virtual immortality". Therein, Andy Clark has the strong intuition that we76 are “patterns in information space77”, and he specifically contrasts this with the “me, here, now, animal” intuition shared by animalists78 such as myself.
      3. There are – of course – arguments for animalism79. Are there corresponding arguments for Clark’s view, or is it a foundational belief, like belief in God has been said to be?
      4. Philosophical intuitions occur in all sorts of philosophical arguments. One central to my own concerns is the “brain transplant80 intuition” – that “we go where our brains go”. I’m not sure whether to share it or not.
      5. The primary source for this topic is probably "DePaul (Michael) & Ramsey (William) - Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry".
    2. Future Great Pain Test81
      1. This is a test invented by Bernard Williams in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future" though the actual terminology seems to be due to Peter Unger.
      2. It is a means of teasing out whether or not we really think – either by Intuition82 or through some convoluted reasoning – that we will be some future individual83. It is cashed out in terms of the prospect of “being mercilessly tortured in the morning”.
      3. If we think that the unfortunate individual will be us, our attitude will be qualitatively different to if we think it will be someone else (though maybe there are exceptions – mothers and their children, maybe – but even there, it may depend on what is to happen – reference Winston Smith and the rats in Room 101 in 1984Wikipedia: Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four - Room 101).
      4. Of course, while this may tease out what we think will be the case in any situation, this doesn’t imply that it will be the case. Lots of people think that teletransportation84, were it to be technically feasible, would be a form of travel, rather than death85 and duplication86. I happen to think their view mistaken. But it either is or isn’t irrespective of anyone’s view. If I was forced to go through the procedure and found my First Person Perspective87 persisted – as only I could know – I’d change my mind, and my philosophy of PID.
      5. In my view, this is important when alloyed to the FPP88 in rebuffing Parfit89’s view that identity doesn’t matter90 in survival91.
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones92
      1. We need to contrast two forms of cloning:-
        1. The metaphysical possibility of atom-by-atom cloning.
        2. Biological cloning which uses existing structures, and interferes unnaturally in a fairly minor way.
      2. I am not concerned (as far as my thesis goes) with the medical ethics of biological cloning. There is never any suggestion that clones in this sense are logically identical, any more than so-called identical twins are.
        1. That said, there is something of a link – in the metaphysics, if not the ethics – with a critique of Parfit93’s “identity doesn’t matter” account of personal identity.
        2. Since my clone has my (innate) properties and capacities, Parfit might think I have all that matters (or much of what matters) to me if my clone, rather than I myself, survives and I do not.
        3. The following papers seem to follow this approach:-
          "Agar (Nicholas) - Cloning and Identity", and
          "Brennan (Andrew) - Survival"
        4. In particular, the paper by Andrew Brennan suggests that persons might be types rather than tokens which – while an interesting proposal – is about as far from the truth as you can get. Tokens suffer, types do not, qua types. One token of the same type may be luxuriating while another is being tortured.
      3. What I am interested in is whether atom-by-atom cloning (where the original exemplar is destroyed) can ever preserve identity94. Because of the logical possibility of the non-destruction of the “original”, I take it that it cannot. This argument depends on modal logic95 – and the rejection of the possibility of contingent identity96. For further discussion, see under Teletransportation97.
      4. We may also need to discuss causality98 to further explain why identity is not preserved. This is particularly the case when discussing Dean Zimmerman’s Falling Elevator model of resurrection99, where – it is supposed – there is a causal connection between the expiring body100 and its clone in the next world.
        1. Is it agreed that this is indeed a clone, as it seems to be, or …
        2. Is this body supposed to be the same body, created by supernatural processes by immanent causation – albeit across space and maybe other dimensions – much as a body at one time is self-identical to a body at a later time by natural metabolic processes?
        3. This would imply – in the absence of perdurantism101 – the non-identity of the living organism102 and the post-mortem corpse103.
        4. See "Hershenov (David) - Van Inwagen, Zimmerman, and the Materialist Conception of Resurrection" for the argument that Zimmerman’s resurrected body is a duplicate104.
        5. For Zimmerman’s arguments, see:-
          "Zimmerman (Dean) - The Compatibility of Materialism and Survival: The “Falling Elevator” Model", and
          "Zimmerman (Dean) - Bodily Resurrection: The Falling Elevator Model Revisited".
      5. The very term ‘Cloning’ seems to deny the possibility of the logical identity of an original and its clone. It implies that there are two things – the original and the clone – and two things can never be one thing, so cannot be logically identical105.
    2. Fission106
      1. Fission is important in the philosophy of identity – especially of personal identity – in that it provides many thought-experiments107 (TEs), and some real-life examples, that test out the various theories.
      2. The paradigm case of Fission is of two half-brain108 transplants109.
        1. It is difficult to consider this case without slipping into the “psychological view110”. Each hemisphere seems to preserve what matters111 to the fissioned individual112, and a perdurantist113 account can maintain identity114 after fission.
        2. An alternative account is to claim that the two half-brains115 always were separate persons116 (and Roland Puccetti has maintained that they are separate persons, in all of us, even prior to the commissurotomy117 in this TE and in everyday life), in a way slightly different from the usual Lewis118 view of non-identical spatially-coincident119 individuals120 (because the hemispheres aren’t spatially coincident, though the shared body121 is).
      3. We need to consider how the original person122 was unified123. We can press the realism of the thought experiment124 by asking how important are the spinal cord and Peripheral Nervous System generally to the psychological125 integrity of the human organism126? The case of dicephalus127 twins may be relevant – where the functions of walking and even typing seem to be carried out perfectly adequately despite the coordinated limbs being controlled by different brains128.
      4. We also need to consider whether the two half-brains129 continue to constitute a single scattered130 person131, just parked in separate bodies132. A single embodiment is important because it ensures synchronisation of experience, and external communication between the hemispheres (in the absence of the usual internal communication across the corpus callosum). Presumably, this could be achieved in other ways.
      5. We can – as in "Dennett (Daniel) - Where Am I?" – imagine a Brain in a Vat133 linked by radio transmitters/receivers to a remote body134.
        1. The brain135 is part of the body136 – so a single physical thing can be spatially discontinuous.
        2. Why, if A fissions into B and C, can’t we consider B & C to be parts of the same person?
        3. They could fight / argue … but so can someone in two minds137 about things.
        4. What if one killed the other?
        5. They would have different perceptual experiences, but so (presumably) does a chameleon, with its eyes pointing in different directions (and sheep and other herbivores, and fish, with eyes on the sides of their heads).
      6. I need to consider in detail what is supposed to be going on in fission – ie. press the original thought experiment138: there needs to be segregation / redundancy prior to separation – this can happen over time (or we would have plain duplication139). At some point the person will split into two, with incommunicable consciousnesses140 (cf. Locke141’s day-person and night-person).
      • Duplication142
        1. Duplicate objects are – to use the definition in "Sider (Ted) - Naturalness, Intrinsicality, and Duplication" – “exactly similar, considered as they are in themselves”. That said, it misses off the question “which is the original?”. A “duplicate” is – by implication – a copy of the original. I don’t think there’s the same implication in the term “double”, though saying that person X is person Y’s “double” – while it doesn’t imply precedence of one over the other – doesn’t even imply exact similarlity143 – just that one might be mistaken for the other (and maybe not even that, quite).
        2. There is considerable overlap between this topic and two other topics:-
          1. Replication144, which is really the same thing (though not restricted to a mere doubling), and
          2. Reduplication Objections145
        3. The motivation for this discussion – and those above – comes mainly from the above (Re-)duplication objections – where some putative change appears to preserve identity, but cannot for logical reasons146.
        4. In Teletransportation147, something distinguishes the forward going psychological continuity148 of the original and the initial backward-looking psychological discontinuity of the duplicate, but I don’t know what it is. Handwavingly, it’s the “wrong sort of causal chain149”, and it’s this causal-chain failure that defeats such Thought Experiments150.
        5. If I were to accept Lewis’s perdurantist151 thesis, the straightforward objection to the identification of the duplicate with the original is undermined – they simply share stages. However, there are still causal chain152 problems to address, and those of physical continuity153.
        6. While cloning154 falls under this head, there is no identity155 preservation, even under a perdurantist156 thesis, as there are no shared stages, just shared genetic material.
        7. Also, philosophical Zombies157 are supposed to be physical duplicates of their conscious158 analogues. But this is a TE that cannot really be conceived of.
      • Twinning159
        1. There are two forms of twinning:-
          1. Dizygotic twinning (Wikipedia: Dizygotic Twins), wherein two separately-fertilized eggs simultaneously develop (to term), is uninteresting from the perspective of my Thesis.
          2. Monozygotic Twinning (Wikipedia: Monozygotic Twins) wherein a single fertilised egg splits into two separately-developing fetuses160 is a special case of Fission161.
        2. Monozygotic Twinning is an important factor – modally162 even when there is no twinning in fact – in the topic of Personal Identity.
        3. The possibility of monozygotic twinning is said to be the reason why no existing individual163 can be numerically identical to an earlier zygote164:-
          1. A zygote is capable of fissioning into two qualitatively identical, but numerically distinct daughter zygotes.
          2. So, a particular zygote has the modal property of developing into two monozygotic twins.
          3. Given that it cannot be identical to both of them – see the Logic of Identity165 – it cannot be identical to either (given that they are exactly similar there is no reason why one should be its closest continuer166 rather than the other).
        4. Conjoined-twinning would appear to be a case of fusion167 (maybe with prior fission168). This case is also be touched on in the discussion of Dicephalus169, which is the most extreme case of conjoined twinning.
      • Reduplication Objections170
        1. The problem of reduplication relates to a systematic problem in the logic of identity171, that of fission172, whether actual or potential.
        2. I have another Note in this general area, that of Replication173. Is this the same issue? The latter Note will deal with what Replication is and how it differs from Identity, while this Note will deal with the problems it causes for potential solutions to the problem of Personal Identity.
        3. So, this Note is about an objection. An objection to what?
        4. The case is probably best put in "Seibt (Johanna) - Fission, Sameness, and Survival: Parfit’s Branch Line Argument Revisited". Reduplication objections arise in various Thought Experiments174, especially:-
          1. Teletransportation175: you couldn’t survive because either the information176 can be used multiple times, or the original “you” might be left behind (the “Branch-line” case).
          2. Brain-state Transfers177: you cannot be the mental contents178 of your brain179, because they could be copied onto multiple “wiped” recipient-brains. This might seem to defeat the Psychological View180.
          3. Cerebrum Transplants181: You cannot be a brain182, because idempotent cerebra183 (or maybe half-brains) could be donated to two recipients, who would have equal claims to be your closest psychological continuer184.
        5. These responses to the TEs185 argue that we would not survive186 certain the vicissitudes in question. The force of these objections rests on the logic187 of identity as classically understood.
        6. Joanna Seibt herself thinks that Reduplication objections – in particular the “Branch Line cases” – “entail according to Parfit188 a conceptual distinction between the notion of identity189 and the notion of survival190”.
        7. As noted elsewhere, I hope this is a misunderstanding of Parfit. What he ought to be saying – and probably is – is that we can have most of what we want191 from survival without surviving192. Because you - that very individual193 – don’t survive unless you are the very same individual pre- and post- whatever contingency is under consideration.
        8. Reduplication objections also arise in the abortion194 debate, and the argument over when “we” – assumed to be human animals195begin196. The reduplication objection implies that this cannot be before the possibility of twinning197 is past.
        9. All these Reduplication objections are – I think – fully answered by adopting Perdurantism198, though there might be other objections to the stances adopted.
    3. Fusion199
      1. Like Fission200, though to a lesser degree, Fusion is important in the philosophy of identity – especially of personal identity – in that it provides many Thought Experiments201 (TEs), and some real-life examples, that test out the various theories.
      2. We need to consider the merger of the two psychologies202: Parfit thinks we might like to inherit some of the better characteristics203 of our partner, as in a marriage – but the creation of a single consciousness204 from two seems difficult to conceive of (much more so than the creation of two consciousnesses from one, as in fission205). Do we end up with a single first-person perspective206, or with two? This needs to be related to multiple personality disorder207.
      3. Also, consider Parfit208’s seasonal people that alternately fission209 and fuse. How conceivable are these TEs210?
      4. We also need to consider physical as well as psychological fusions, as in the case of the dicephalus211 and brain transplants212. These are in any case easier to imagine – or to think we can imagine – and apply to real and hypothetical cases.
      5. A non-pathological case of fusion – also discussed under Pregnancy213 and Chimera214 – is that of the very early fusion of non-identical twin215 embryos216. Then, the adult may contain cells with different genotypes, which would normally have ended up as two individuals217. Things get slightly odd when the twins218 were of different sexes as the organs can develop from one or the other (or both). There’s also the normal case where ‘foreign’ cells (mostly red blood cells) wander across the placenta and end up in the body of either the mother or the fetus219. All this is covered in "Ball (Philip) - How to Grow a Human: Reprogramming Cells and Redesigning Life", pp. 81-5.
      • Transplants220
        1. From the standpoint of Personal Identity, the most significant transplants are Brain Transplants221. While the transplantation of cerebrums222 and larger brain223-parts, including WBTs224 will be covered elsewhere, here we should cover Thought Experiments225 involving smaller brain-tissue transplants, which are supposed to transfer psychological226 elements from one person227 to another and not identity as such.
        2. In the context of animalism228, however – where it is said (by Olson229) that the brain230 is just another organ – there is less reason for Brain Transplants to receive centre-stage. Some animalists231 resist the “Transplant Intuition” – which is that “we go where our brains go”, but I will discuss that when discussing Brain Transplants.
        3. But, the animalist must still consider whether an organism232 can survive233 the transplant of “lesser” organs, and which – if any – transplants it cannot survive. We certainly accept that major-organ transplants – and even a complex of organs such as heart/lungs – preserve the Human Animal234 (and person235).
        4. Are there any limits beyond which we cannot go? Do we have to allow for a case of fusion236 in extreme circumstances? Is there a “core” of the animal237 that preserves identity while peripheral organs are swapped out?
        5. What about inorganic transplants? Is the Human Animal238 preserved, and does it incorporate the transplanted organs, or are they useful appendages (like clothes) that are external to it? Alternatively, do we then have a cyborg239? What about implants that affect our mentation240?
        6. I can’t delve far into the ethics of transplantation, but only the metaphysics thereof. That said, I’ve read, enjoyed and briefly commented on "Ishiguro (Kazuo) - Never Let Me Go".
    4. Psychopathology241
      1. Psychopathological cases are useful as real-life Thought Experiments242 for teasing out issues in the topic of personal identity, as in psychology243 generally, though it’s strictly-speaking of more interest to those espousing varieties of the Psychological View244 than to animalists245 like myself.
      2. The underlying assumption is that pathological cases have lessons for the general non-pathological case. It is only when a hidden process goes wrong that we get clues as to how it works.
      3. It is somewhat moot – though maybe not hugely relevant to my concerns – just what conditions count as pathological. Not everyone agrees that the latest edition of DSM246 has it right, as many social and political factors enter into the choices.
      4. The topic of aphasia – loss of the ability to speak – is of particular interest given the inclusion of language247 as a defining characteristic of persons248 – on some accounts.
      5. The same might be said of deficits of memory249 or of sense of self250 (autism).
      • Clinical Observations251
        1. Clinical observations may be a better guides than Thought Experiments252 (TEs) as test cases for our theories of personal identity, because at least we know they represent a real possibility.
          • One of the main objections to TEs is that they are underspecified and confused.
          • However, even with actual clinical observation, we still have the trouble of the correct interpretation of the clinical data, which affects the conclusions we can draw from it.
          • See "Wegner (Daniel) - The Illusion of Conscious Will" for the sort of controversy that arises in these circumstances. Briefly, B. Libet’s experiments supposedly revealing that we act before the experience of willing the action can be variously interpreted.
        2. Examples of relevant clinical cases are
          1. Commissurotomy patients253 and
          2. Those with Multiple Personality Disorder254 (MPD).
          Is a commissurotomy or MPD patient “home to” one or two Persons255?
        3. I will argue elsewhere that PATIENT – like PERSON256 – is a Phase Sortal257 of the Ultimate Sortal258 HUMAN BEING259.
          • One Human Being260 can simultaneously be multiple patients (dental and chiropody, for instance), or a multiply-enrolled student.
          • Does this situation mirror those of our more seriously damaged human beings?
        4. One thing can’t be two things (in the sense of “be identical to”), even if the two things are of a different kind261 to the one thing.
      • Commissurotomy265
        1. A commissurotomy involves cutting the corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibres connecting the two cerebral hemispheres266 of the brain267. The procedure is used to treat epilepsy, but is invoked by philosophers as a Thought Experiment268 (TE) to provide an alleged real-life example of Fission269. The real-life situation usually has to be improved upon to overcome the laterality of the brain, and the two hemispheres are assumed to be idempotent, with nothing of philosophical significance alleged to ride on this idealisation.
        2. As with all TEs270, what we can learn from this one depends on our level of description of what is supposed to be going on. The idea is that each hemisphere fully supports the mental life of the subject(s), and consequently that there are, or can come to be, multiple subjects (Selves271) – and hence multiple persons272 – within the same human animal273.
        3. Commissurotomy is therefore used as an objection274 to animalism275. Some philosophers argue that (for modal276 reasons) there are always two Persons277 within the same Human Being278.
        4. Clearly, this is not obviously the case in the normal asymmetric brain279. See, no doubt, "Kinsbourne (Marcel) - Asymmetrical Function of the Brain", though this is rather an old book. So, in these Thought Experiments280 – and prior to this idealised idempotency – there has to be a period of equalisation and duplication281 of function. This sounds like it would lead to causal over-determination, but maybe the way it could be described is as with fault-tolerant computer282 systems, so that one hemisphere always takes the lead (or maybe they alternate) – in fact, this is said to be the case with marine mammals, to enable them to sleep283 without drowning: see, for instance, Scientific American: How do Whales and Dolphins Sleep Without Drowning?. The non-dominant hemisphere is just kept up to date – either continuously or periodically – with whatever data and current state is represented in the dominant hemisphere. In such a situation, there are already – prior to the commissurotomy – two exactly similar (other than that they are mirror images of one another) but non-identical half-brains284.
        5. Of course, the last sentence above begs some questions. It is only the cerebral hemispheres285 that are separated and duplicated286 – but they are still physically connected via the brain-stem – even if the logical connections are greatly reduced. It is said – see "Rosen (Victoria) - One Brain. Two Minds? Many Questions" and the references therein, which summarises the controversy between Yair Pinto and Michael S. Gazzaniga – that severed hemispheres can still communicate with one another via cues passed externally to the brain287. Indeed, the case of the dicephalus288 suggests that this co-ordination is possible with two complete brains, where the hands can be coordinated to drive a car and even type, despite being controlled by different brains.
        6. A recent paper – "Pinto (Yair) - When you split the brain, do you split the person?" – has suggested that the research for which Sperry received a Nobel Prize has not been replicated289 – in the case of two patients – and that this raises questions about the nature of consciousness290. I have my doubts. Might the corpus collosum not have been entirely severed in these cases, or might one of the above situations apply? Rosen claims that Yair Pinto thinks that other fibers are involved.
      • Multiple Personality Disorder291
        1. MPD – otherwise known as Dissociative Identity Disorder – is a condition traditionally viewed as psychopathological292, to be treated by therapy, though there are dissenting views. It occurs where a Human Being293 is, or appears to be, “home” to more than one Person294, or at least more than one Personality295.
        2. These Persons296 / Personalities297 may be radically dissimilar, and are (as the alternative designation implies) dissociated from one another. They can be like Locke298’s night and day man “incommunicable consciousnesses299”, unaware of one another’s existence – hence being in Lockean300terms different Persons301; or, they can be aware of one another, but as of distinct Persons302.
        3. No doubt one could complain that the clinically303-recorded cases are exaggerated, fabrications or otherwise unreliable. But there seems nothing wrong with them as TEs304, and ones least open to cavil given their approximation to reality.
        4. Effectively, we are supposed to have a Brain305 running more than one “Mind306-program” (on the “mind-as-software” approach); or a brain segregated into more than virtual machine (on the “mind as hardware”) approach to the mind-brain relationship.
        5. MPDs pose no problems to those espousing the Psychological View307 of Personal Identity – other than ethical issues concerning “therapeutic” suppression or unification of the alleged multiple Persons308 (see "Shoemaker (David) - Moral Issues at the End of Life"), but what is the response of the Constitution View309? Can we have more than one Person310 – with more than one First Person Perspective311 – constituted by the same human Body312? Animalism313 ignores psychological314 factors altogether as far as identity is concerned, so won’t be troubled.
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer315
      1. The idea behind a Brain State Transfer is that we can – at least in principle as a Thought Experiment316 – copy the Information317 from a Brain318 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.
      2. This seems fanciful to me, as I’m sure it does to most people not enticed by Transhumanism319, but seems to be a natural Intuition320 to them.
      3. My scepticism is partly because I am antipathetic to functionalism321. The Information322 stored in Brains323 appears to be in highly distributed representations along connectionist lines rather than according to classical AI. The very physical structure and topology of the brain changes along with what it represents. There is no simple software / hardware distinction in a realistic Psychology324 of Human Beings325. Of course, even in a digital Computer326 there are physical changes to the various gates and storage media. But there is no growing or disassembling of connections.
      4. Consequently, this is a case of an under-specified TE327 that Kathleen 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 replica328 of the brain whose contents are supposedly being transferred. It will not simply feed information329 into a pre-existing brain.
      5. Hence, I now think that Bernard Williams’s intuitions330 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 fusion331 of a replica332 of B’s brain333 and A’s body334. The situation is best described as a transplant335 of (maybe only part of) a replica of B’s brain into A-body-person’s head. A-body-person may end up confused, but only because – it seems to him – he’s obtained a new body.
      6. Of course, this TE336 retains all the difficulties associated with Brain Transplants337. A particular brain338 is wired up to control a particular body339, and won’t work adequately with a new one.
      7. Note that “uploading”340 differs from – and builds on – BSTs because it requires the person341’s psychology342 and phenomenal consciousness343 to be realised (I would say merely simulated) on a digital computer344, making a two-phase project, whereas BSTs – superficially at least – just require the copying phase.
    2. Brain Transplants345
      1. Brain Transplants, even if currently technically infeasible are considered to be important Thought Experiments346 in the philosophy of Personal Identity. They seem to give the same answer to both the holders of the Psychological Continuity347 View and the Bodily Continuity348 View of what ensures the persistence349 of the person across time. Both say that the Person350 goes where the Brain351 goes.
      2. This assumption is the “Transplant Intuition”. However, some animalists352 (say they) fail to share this intuition. They (Eric Olson for instance) consider the Brain353 to be “just another organ”, albeit a very important one. I find this counter-intuitive354.
      3. In evaluating these claims it is important to understand just how the Brain355 works, so that we can determine just how fanciful our TEs356 are. I will discuss this under the Note on the Brain357. An assumption I make is that as we are interested in the question What We Are358, it is important to be empirically accurate.
      4. Note that there are three conceptually distinct versions of the idea of a brain transplant359.
        1. The first is a Whole Brain Transplant (WBT), though it becomes somewhat arbitrary quite where the brain360 is supposed to terminate – ie. just how much of the Spinal Cord is included. I include “head transplants” in this category. Note that these might otherwise described as “Body361 Transplants”. Both descriptions are tendentious and theory-laden.
        2. The second is the Cerebrum362 Transplant (single or double).
        3. Finally, there’s a “Brain Tissue” transplant, presumably with the intention of transferring particular psychological363 properties364.
      5. It might be objected that the TEs365 of WBTs are under-specified. A lot of motor-control is delegated to the non-brain parts of the Central Nervous System (CNS); apart from the brain, the CNS is, mostly, the spinal cord (see Wikipedia: Central Nervous System). To ensure motor-control, the brain and the CNS – and even the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) need to work in tandem. The PNS consists in those elements of the nervous system other than the brain and the spinal cord (see Wikipedia: Peripheral Nervous System). Yet a transfer of the entire CNS - which includes the spinal cord, let alone the PNS – which includes all the peripheral nerve endings (both sensory and motor) – stretches credulity somewhat.
      6. We need to consider just what the TEs366 are supposed to prove, and just why we sometimes consider WBTs rather than just Cerebrum367 transfers. I presume the preference for WBTs may stem from the presumed assurance that the seat of consciousness368 is transferred, which might not be the case if only a cerebrum or two are transferred.
      7. It may be we don’t care too much whether the recipient of the transferred brain is fully functional – though if we want assurance that this individual is an animal369, we might want the regulatory functions of the brain370 to remain intact. But whatever brain parts perform these tasks, provided the resultant individual has a full brain, however cobbled together, we might have what we want if the wiring problem can be solved.
      8. A Whole Brain Transplant might better be described as a maximal body transplant, while it is much less clear what’s going on in a Cerebrum371 Transplant. The latter are useful for cases of fission372 (with the added assumption of the idempotency of the two hemispheres), but it’s not fully clear just what psychological373 functions are left behind in this case. Because not all regulatory functions are in the cerebra374, it’s more difficult to argue that the human animal375 is transplanted with one or more cerebra376 than it is with a WBT.
      9. I’ve not heard of anyone arguing for animal fission377 by a fission of the whole brain378, but maybe they have. I suppose the simplest case of Animal Fission would be the separation of Dicephalus379 twins, taken (rather implausibly) to be a single Animal380 with two heads. But this case might better be described as two animals sharing parts, which are then apportioned in the process of achieving separation.
    3. Siliconisation381
      1. “Siliconisation” is a name – there may be others – for Thought Experiments382 involving the gradual replacement of neural tissue by silicon computer383 chips.
      2. An example is Peter Unger’s “zippering”. Unfortunately, I can’t find the reference for this, so it is possible I’ve either misremembered the term, or forgotten the author. Unger does discuss the gradual replacement of neurons by silicon in pp. 122-123 of "Unger (Peter) - The Physical Approach To Our Survival", but I couldn’t see the term used there.
      3. Anyway, this is a subtle argument. We don’t – of course – know whether this TE384 is metaphysically385 possible386. We don’t know whether silicon can sustain consciousness387, though functionalists388 assume that it can. Gradually, it is said, we no longer have a human animal389, but one that will – behaviourally at least – will be indistinguishable from one.
      4. I think the situation is best viewed as an increasingly mutilated human animal390 with an ever-growing prosthesis. The term for such is a “Cyborg391”.
      5. I doubt that the silicon would maintain phenomenal consciousness392, but just be a “zombie393” simulacrum.
      6. Any replacement that would maintain phenomenal consciousness394 would be indistinguishable from natural part-replacement. But I think this is a contingent, empirical matter, a long way off from an answer.
      7. A question I’ve considered is whether siliconization would preserve the First Person Perspective395, irrespective of whether it impacts on consciousness396.
      8. I just note here that “silicon” is used as a proxy for any non-carbon-based intelligence397. Germanium, or Qubits might do as well (or better), though quantum398-computing399 might change the game somewhat.
    4. Dracula400
      1. Count Dracula is only a Fiction401, but the vicissitudes he is supposed to be able to survive may be worth some brief considerations to determine whether they are metaphysically possible – or even make logical sense.
      2. I have no great interest in what supposedly causes vampirism – whether it’s a virus or whatever, nor on how it’s passed on. Nor do I care about Dracula’s abilities to climb walls or fly through the air. Nor about his supposed aversion to garlic or crucifixes.
      3. However, the vampire is supposed to only maintain his Existence402 by drinking blood – preferably human, but animal blood – particularly of rats – will do at a pinch. I presume there’s some refection of ancient ideas that ‘the Life403 – or Soul404 – is in the blood’, which was not to be eaten.
      4. Dracula is described as ‘undead’. That is – he has died at some point – in fact at many points in later retellings in order to keep the sequels running – but is neither claimed to be alive nor dead. We might reflect on how such an idea squares with our normal ideas of what Life405 and Death406 are.
      5. The fictional claims that really interest me relate to Dracula’s Metamorphoses407. The first question is what he ‘really’ looks like. In the book, and film thereof, Dracula in has castle looks as you might expect someone over 400 years old to look. But when he appears in public, he looks young and handsome. Then – in the dénouement – when he is mortally wounded in the guise of his ancient self – he reverts to his youthful self in response to Mina’s kiss, after which he is ‘released’ by beheading. A question is – is he metamorphosing, or supposed to be influencing the vision of his beholders? As the latter would be needlessly complicated in busy London streets, I assume the former, especially as he is supposed to transform himself otherwise. Enough to say there’s nothing metaphysically problematical about such identity-preserving Metamorphosis408, as it’s presumably ‘just’ a rearrangement of Matter409, with some need for an energy source to effect the same. One needn’t worry about the details.
      6. The more interesting metamorphoses involve Dracula’s supposed Metamorphosis410 into a large dog-like animal on leaving the ship at Whitby, and into a mist, into bats, and rats.
      7. Transformation into a dog (and back) would be a trans-species Metamorphosis411. I’ve not much special to add here. If Dracula still falls under the Natural Kind412 concept Human Being413, and the natural kind is an essential property of the Individual414, then he would cease to exist as the dog, but – if Intermittent Existence415 is allowed – might subsequently ‘exist again’. The same might apply to the other transformations.
      8. It is supposed that Dracula transforms himself into many bats (or rats). Bats and rats are much of a muchness. The interesting common feature is the one-to-many ratio. If Dracula cannot survive – logically speaking – Metamorphosis416 into a dog, he certainly can’t survive transformation into a single rat or bat, let alone many of them. Each rat – we may suppose – is an independent sentient being. Can they collectively constitute another being? Would this ‘distributed’ being be an Individual417? Are we to suppose Dracula to be conscious in this state? It is true that Organisms418 are constituted by a multitude of cells, but these cells aren’t independent beings. More could be said – maybe along the lines of Societies419.
      9. Transformation into a mist is very odd. Presumably this is disassembly into microscopic constituent parts. Can an Organism420 - as distinct from a bicycle – survive421 such an adventure? Would he cease to exist in the interim or exist as a Scattered Object422?
      10. It’s not in the book, but – at least in Hammer Horror – human blood dropped onto his ashes allows Dracula to regenerate. This would seem to be an example of Resurrection423. At least there’s some physical Continuity424.
    5. Teletransportation425
      Original Case Study - “Beam me up Scottie”
      1. There are two obvious supposed mechanisms for teletransportation:
        1. Transferring both matter and information; or simply
        2. Transferring information, utilising local matter.
      2. I gather that in the Star Trek series itself, it's plasma that's transmitted, but as this is unlikely to get to its destination without causing havoc, the information-only transfer is more reasonable. However, even in the plasma-transfer case, I'm unconvinced that I'd survive426, for two reasons:
        1. Some things (eg. bicycles, and analogous artifacts427) can survive disassembly and re-assembly, but only if they are disassembled into recognisable parts. If a bicycle is disassembled into iron filings and latex goo, and then re-manufactured, we might be reluctant to say it's the same bicycle.
        2. As a matter of empirical fact, fundamental particles are not distinguishable, so the labelling cannot be undertaken even in principle. If it doesn't matter which particle fits where, provided they are of the right sort, the case seems to collapse into the information-transfer variant. On consideration, I’m not 100% confident on this point. In any case, since we are biological organisms428, the particular atoms that make us up aren’t important, provided they are replaced gradually, and the structure is maintained.
      3. We now turn to the information-transfer case. My main worries initially here have to do with the possibility of duplicates429. We all know that a counterfeit, however well done, isn't the same as the original. The logic of identity430 is constraining. A thing is identical to itself and to nothing else, so if a thing is identical to two "other" things, these "two" must be identical to one another. Given that my two beamed-up versions aren't identical to one another, at least one of them can't be identical to me. And, since they are exactly similar431, why choose one rather than the other? So, neither is me. Both are exactly similar432 to me, but identity is to be distinguished from exact similarity. This situation is comparable to the case where the "original" human being isn't destroyed. This sort of thought experiment433 is referred to as the “Branch-line Case”: see section 75 in "Parfit (Derek) - What We Believe Ourselves To Be", in "Parfit (Derek) - Reasons and Persons". Canonically, it's where I've only a few days left to live (because the scanner has done me a mischief). Would I be happy in the knowledge that my duplicate434 would go on and on, and take up with my partner and career where I left off? Is this as good as if I survived? Not likely, unless we’re Parfitian435 saints! Note, however, that the case is tendentiously described (ie. as teletransportation) to lead to this seemingly obvious conclusion that this is a form of transport. Note that the technology is described tendentiously with the opposite intuition as “Telecloning” in "Dennett (Daniel) - The Mind's I - Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul: Introduction". The "main line" candidate would be perfectly happy that his rival back home was about to perish.
      4. Philosophers split into two main camps in response to these situations (though - jumping ahead a little - even if perdurantism436 is true, we still might not have the teletransportation of a persisting437 individual438, because of the wrong sort of causal439 link leading to a lack of forward continuity440 of consciousness441, or even of physical continuity). So there are multiple bifurcations, but we keep things simple here and just follow those who think that I either survive442 or have what matters443 in survival:-
        1. 4-dimensionalists (Perdurantists444): A thing is really a 4-dimensional worm through space-time, which consists in a set of instantaneous 3-D stages. In this situation, where multiple teletransportations occur, all copies are me. They are different 4-D worms, but they share all their pre-beaming-up stages. There were always at least 2 people present.
        2. 3-dimensionalists (Endurantists445) claim that while I'm not identical to the beamed-up person, yet I have what matters446 in survival447.
      5. Note that there's a modal448 argument to the effect that even in the usual case where only one copy is beamed up, and the original is destroyed, because there might have been multiple copies, this means that identity isn't preserved even in the case where there's only one teletransportation-result created. This seems to lead to paradox. Imagine the situation - I'm beamed up and think I've survived449, and am then told that the machine has malfunctioned and produced a duplicate450, and hence, contrary to my experience, I haven't survived after all! Unfortunately, some philosophers go along with a "closest continuer451" theory of identity across nasty cases of fission452 or fusion453. I'm identical to (or even “survive as454”) the continuer that most closely continues me, either psychologically455 or physically456, according to taste. How can my survival depend on what happens to someone else, the thought goes? See the “Only 'X' and 'Y' Principle457”. While this does seem odd, in fact you can’t trust the feelings of the teletransportees – for even if multiple copies are made, they all subjectively feel like the original.
      6. There are two questions outstanding.
        1. Do I survive the transfer? And, if I don’t,
        2. Does it matter that I'm not identical to the post-beamed person?
        I’m here ignoring the (as it seems to me) illogical “survival458 without identity” option.
      7. We have seen that it is possible that it appears to me that I survive, yet I do not. On the endurantist459 view, the logic of identity460 means that I cannot trust my experience. So, it seems possible that the person “waking up” is not me. I never wake up – in the sense that I lose consciousness, but never experience a re-awakening - but someone else with my past in his memories is created in my stead.
      8. So, is survival461 itself what matters462? Well, on the perdurantist463 view, survival is not even sufficient for me to have what matters in the sense Parfit464 intends. Imagine the case where the machine goes haywire and 1,000 exactly similar teletransportees are created. All these share my pre-teletransportation stages, so are all me (except that “I” was always 1,000 co-located individuals – and maybe more – who knows how often the machine may go wrong in the future!). In this case 1,000 individuals would be squabbling over the same friends, relations, job etc, and that might be rather a nuisance, and it seems that I wouldn’t really have what most matters to me, though no doubt I would be able to rebuild my life from scratch. However, this isn't fundamental to whether I do or don't survive, and it seem that what really matters to me is survival itself. If I'm a violin virtuoso or a body-builder, I might not find it much fun surviving as a brain in a vat465, but that would just be tough. The standard philosophical test is the "future great pain test466". I believe that the future continuant will be me, whether I like it or not, if I'm as terrified of that continuant being tortured as I would be if I were to be tortured in the normal course of events. Our BIVs467 would be even more upset at the prospect of torture-simulation being fed into their brains than at the loss of their beautiful bodies. Our fears have to be moderated by logic, however. But this is no worse than ignoring a revivalist rant on Hellfire. If I’m not identical to a particular teletransportatee, I won’t survive468, and if I don’t survive469 I won’t feel anything. I may have a moral obligation not to land others in a pickle, but it won’t be the selfish problem of avoiding landing myself in one.
      9. I can imagine fissioning470, by the bungled-beaming-up process, into 1,000 continuants, none of which (on a 3-D view) is identical to me, but all of whom seem to themselves to continue my first-person perspective471. I can imagine (just about) going into the machine, and coming out again 1,000 times (when the life-histories of the 1,000 then start to diverge). While the psychologies of the 1,000 are initially identical, they are not connected to one another, though they are each connected continuously to the pre-beamed-up person. So, if even one of them were to be threatened with torture, I'd be terrified if I thought that that one (even amongst all the others) would be me, in the sense that my experience continues into that body.
      10. But, do I survive472? I don't think I do, for reasons given above. It’s not that I reject perdurantism473, it’s just that even accepting perdurantism there’s too radical a discontinuity. It's clear that a duplicate474, looking backwards, wouldn't be able to tell apart the situation from the normal one of (say) just having woken up after a dreamless sleep. However, I imagine it's possible (even in a supposedly successful teletransportation) for – moving forward475 – there to be nothing it's like for me after the beaming - it's as though I never woke up, though someone else woke up thinking he was me. This would be a tragedy but, we'd never know about it, because (on this hypothesis) I wouldn't be around to tell the tale, and my duplicate476 would claim everything was fine (he remembered going to bed and waking up, as it were).
      11. This worries me slightly about our every-night bouts of unconsciousness. How do I know that “the me” that wakes up is “the same me” that went to sleep, and would it matter if it wasn't? Was my mother right in saying “it’ll be all right in the morning”, in the sense that I’d have no further experience of the current problem, or indeed of anything at all? Is this worry parallel to beam-me-up case? Or is sleep a pain-free death?
      12. I suspect the answer to these questions is that for a physical thing to persist, there needs to be appropriate physical continuity, and this continuity guarantees its persistence (though this intuition is a bit of a feeble response). On the assumption that my brain477 supports my conscious experience, this is enough to reassure me that, as it's the same continuing brain in my skull overnight, it's the same me that's conscious in the morning. I don't have the same reassurance in the case of beaming-up. So, I wouldn't go in for it, even if it came to be seen as a cheap form of transportation.
      John Weldon's "To Be"
      1. This is a 10-minute animated cartoon that discusses the question of teletransportation. Last I looked, it was available on Vimeo at John Weldon’s "To Be". It was originally (as far as I remember) on YouTube, but was taken down with the legend “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by National Film Board of Canada”. No doubt the Vimeo copy will disappear in due course.
      2. In it, a mad scientist invents a teletransportation device as a means of free travel. The necessity of destroying the original is discussed, initially to avoid overpopulation, and then to prevent disputes as to who is who. The branch-line case, where the original is destroyed five minutes after the replication478, also features. There, it is clear that the original is a different individual to the teletransportee, and clings to life. Destroying the original is (in retrospect) murder – but what’s the difference between this situation and the one where the original is immediately destroyed? There’s obviously the anticipatory angle – in the “normal” case, the original thinks of the situation as one of travel, and no-one thinks that identity is not preserved in the process, whereas in the branch-line case the confusion is exposed, and the original knows that the teletransportee is a clone479. So, maybe the branch-line case is clearly a case of murder, whereas the “normal” case is a case of accidental homicide where the perpetrator is unaware that he’s killed someone?
      3. The twist in the tail is that the heroine, overcome with guilt after the branch-line case (which she’d originally just thought of as a logical demonstration) – and now understanding the metaphysics of teletransportation – thinks she can now
        1. atone for her crime,
        2. escape the guilt and
        3. escape her creditors by being herself teletransported.
        For (i) she dies and is cloned480 and (ii) / (iii) the teletransportee is a different individual to the original, so why should this individual have any moral connection to the other? There seems to be something fishy about this, but maybe it’s perfectly sound reasoning. However, …
      4. In the animation, the original and the teletransportee get muddled up (after all, both look alike and think alike), so for practical purposes we are in a situation similar to Locke’s “amnesiac drunkard” case – society481 has to find the drunkard guilty for his forgotten crimes (in that case because of the possibility of dissimulation); so, maybe the possibility of dissimulation or devious intent (as in the animated case) would for practical purposes mean that the teletransportee would inherit the moral and legal baggage of the original – and surely they would, or the practical consequences of people routinely escaping their debts would be grave.
      5. Yet, metaphysically, it’s no different from escaping your debts by committing suicide, because the teletransportee is not the same individual. And, I think the Branch-line case shows that it’s not the same person either, unless we allow the non-substance term “Person” to have multiple instances – as immediately post teletransportation, both the original and the teletransportee would seem to be the same person (however this is defined non-substantially) even though they would rapidly diverge into two different persons. Just as in the case of suicide, society482 has in the past tried to show that you “can’t really escape” – because of the prospect of Hell, so in the teletransportation case the same myth would be propagated. The teletransportee would be deemed to inherit the moral baggage of the original and, if not up to speed on the metaphysics, would think rightly so. But the original would have escaped for all that!
      • Replication483
        1. Replication arises where an obvious copying process takes place. I would claim that Teletransportation484 falls under this head. I'm currently not clear whether there's a distinction between replication and duplication485, other than that duplication would seem to be restricted to doubling, whereas replication is more open-ended.
        2. Does amoebic division count as replication? When an amoeba divides, this is not a case of fission486 but of reproduction. So, there are three amoebae involved – the original one and the two daughters. This is not the same situation as in fission.
        3. The above said, does this case depend:
          1. on how the case is described487 and
          2. on how – empirically – the replication occurs?
        4. If the amoebic division occurs by budding of a daughter, so that we can continually "track" the parent, then we have straightforward reproduction. If the division is symmetrical, the case could be correctly described as replication, though maybe on a perdurantist488 view we originally had two coincident489 amoebae that both persist.
        5. We need to watch out for closest continuer490 descriptions of the case.
        6. I feel I need to investigate the science of all this a bit more.
          1. On amoebae: see Wikipedia: Amoeba (Genus)
          2. Their standard division is as all eucaryotic cells – by Mitosis (Wikipedia: Mitosis) and Cytokinesis (Wikipedia: Cytokinesis)
  4. Transhumanism491
    1. Transhumanism is the thesis that we human beings492 can – in principle at least – transcend our animal493 nature and escape or at least augment – in whole or part – our animal bodies494.
    2. The movement hopes – amongst other things – to extend our lifespans – either considerably or indefinitely.
    3. One particular strand of this hope is to escape our mortal bodies altogether by “uploading495 ourselves” to a digital computer496.
    4. Of course, there’s lots more to the movement, especially with somatic and mental augmentation to expedite our evolutionary497 progress via Cyborgisation498.
    5. I’m very doubtful about the possibility – practical or theoretical – of most of these aims, as well as their desirability. However, while this topic is on the borders of sci-fi, it is a challenge to animalism499 in that it presupposes that “we500” can transcend our biological origins501 in some way or other.
    6. The premier transhumanist of my acquaintance is Nick Bostrom. He has also argued that we might be (and indeed probably are) living in a computer502 simulation. See:-
      1. "Bostrom (Nick) - Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?",
      2. "Weatherson (Brian) - Are You a Sim?", and
      3. "Bostrom (Nick) - The Simulation Argument: Reply to Weatherson".
    7. A light-hearted introductions to the ideas and personalities are:-
      1. "O'Connell (Mark) - To be a Machine", and
      2. "Tegmark (Max) - Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence"
    8. And the main text for this topic is "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - The Transhumanist Reader". It’s probably best to start with the Introductions to the book’s nine Parts.
    9. Enough to say here that I’m not sympathetic to these aims, nor to the possibility of Uploading503, even in principle.
    1. Nearby Hopes
      • Chimeras504
        1. Chimeras are animals505 – or maybe humanoids – the mythical centaur is an example – made up of parts of animals from different species.
        2. The original Chimeras were mythical beasts (Wikipedia: Chimera), improbable amalgams of lion, goat and snake, though mules (Wikipedia: Mule, the progeny of a male donkey and a female horse) are chimeras as the parents are of different species with different numbers of chromosomes.
        3. My only reference for this topic was originally "Savulescu (Julian) - Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a person?". This brief paper focuses on the ethics of using (future) pig-human chimeras as sources of (human) transplant506-organs or neural507 matter.
        4. The paper’s rhetorical question is rather ludicrous as there would never be any intention of engineering pigs with the attributes needed to qualify as a person, nor the need to do so even in the case of neural tissue (which would remain in the petri-dish). However:-
          1. Admittedly, "Ishiguro (Kazuo) - Never Let Me Go" considers the cloning of human beings so their organs can be harvested, but this is presumably because it is deemed to be the technologically simplest solution.
          2. I’m admittedly unclear about the question of neural tissue. But the idea of developing neural structures within a pig-human chimera and transplanting these structures into a human head is as far-fetched as brain transplants508, so can be ignored for now.
        5. Whether such a beast – whether hybridised with a human or not – were to qualify as a person509 ought to be based on its cognitive capacities and not merely on its chromosomes.
        6. It is possible that this topic might relate to transhumanism510. Rather than adding small quantities of human to pig, we might add quantities of animal to human. This would be the case in organ transplants – where an essentially normal organ is transplanted – but it might be the case that augmentative strategies could be adopted whereby humans are enhanced with bodily features (or, say, the physiological infrastructure) of animals, much as in the case of cyborgs511, but with organic rather than inorganic parts.
        7. I’ve noted the extended usage of the term “chimera” to designate human beings with body parts or cells originating from different human beings. I’m not sure this is helpful, or that it has much significant to say about identity conditions. Genetic uniformity is not sufficient for numerical identity (because of identical twins512) and I doubt it is necessary either. Examples given are women after (or possibly during) pregnancy and human-human transplant recipients.
        8. The following useful material comes from notes made on the RIP-version of "Kingma (Elselijn) - Were You Part of Your Mother?".
          1. Micro-chimerism (See Wikipedia: Microchimerism): Fetal-maternal & Twin-twin transfer. Pregnant women usually pick up fetal cells during pregnancy, which remain in their bodies for decades.
          2. Macro-chimerism: Kidney donation; blastocyst fusion (see Wikipedia: Chimera (Genetics)). This link distinguishes Chimeras from Hybrids and Hybridomas. In a Chimera, each cell is genetically uniform, whereas:-
            • Hybrids: form from the fusion of gametes from two species that form a single zygote with a combined genetic makeup. See Wikipedia: Hybrid (Biology).
            • Hybridomas: result from the fusion of two species' cells into a single cell and artificial propagation of this cell in the laboratory. See Wikipedia: Hybridoma Technology.
            In the latter case, two blastocysts (of non-identical twins) fuse non-pathologically (the pathological cases are of conjoined twins – where there’s incomplete fusion and integration) – for all Kingma knows this might be true of her – so that some organs are formed from one blastocyst and the others, or the skin, are formed from the other. It’d be bonkers to think that such cases weren’t each a (single) organism.
        9. I’m indebted to "Ball (Philip) - How to Grow a Human: Reprogramming Cells and Redesigning Life", pp. 81-5, for further information on the above case where, because of very early fusion of non-identical twin embryos513, the adult may contain cells with different genotypes, which would normally have ended up as two individuals. Things get slightly odd when the twins were of different sexes as the organs can develop from one or the other (or both). There’s also the normal case where ‘foreign’ cells (mostly red blood cells) wander across the placenta and end up in the body of either the mother or the fetus.
      • Cyborgs514
        1. Briefly, a Cyborg (Cybernetic Organism) is a human being (or any organic being) with some inorganic parts (Wikipedia: Cyborg).
        2. Compare and contrast with Android515, which is a humanoid robot.
        3. See also Siliconisation516, the Thought Experiment517 wherein we have the gradual replacement of (human) neural tissue with microchips while – allegedly – preserving consciousness518 and mental519 function.
        4. And again, connect to Chimeras520. In this case, biological material from other animals is merged with human tissue to provide an enhancement, and there are other situations where human tissue is to be harvested from other animals – after genetic modification or other means – for the purpose of implantation521.
        5. All of the above is beloved of the Transhumanists522, who want to enhance the human condition by all means possible, even if this means that humans are no longer – strictly speaking – human beings523.
        6. My interest in Cyborgs stems from the impact of their possibility on the truth of Animalism524.
        7. If we are (human) animals525, would we continue to exist if increasingly enhanced by technological implants526 and extensions. I see no immediate problem – just a bit more along the lines of spectacles & hip replacements. But no doubt there would eventually become a tipping point when we become more inorganic than organic527. Our persistence conditions528 would then be mixed between those of organisms529 and artefacts530. Or is the situation better described by us shrinking (if our parts are replaced) or – if the technological parts are add-ons – remaining unchanged. Currently we’re unchanged by our spectacles, but hip replacements become part of us. Is this not so?
    2. Far Off Hopes
      • Uploading531
        1. This Note will discuss the Transhumanist532 fantasy of uploading you533 (or your mind534) to a computer535.
        2. For this to be possible, the “Computer Model” of the mind – which seems to be the dominant paradigm in neuroscience – needs to be true of us, and not just a model. This is the view that the brain operates like a digital computer536 and is disputed by, for example, "Epstein (Robert) - The empty brain".
        3. "Miller (Kenneth D.) - Will You Ever Be Able to Upload Your Brain?" points out the formidable technical obstacles to building a full model of the brain, and that consequently Uploading is not to be anticipated any century soon. The author does, however, think that it is metaphysically possible537.
        4. I don’t believe this, for the same reason that I don’t think Teletransportation538 – even if technically feasible – is identity-preserving. Rather than uploading you, we’d only achieve a simulation. But even if the individual ‘in’ the computer were to be conscious539 and a person540, it would not be you but someone else.
        5. Additionally, this Note should cover the – more realistic but still technologically very remote – possibility of uploading information541 into our brains542, though this overlaps with Brain State Transfer543, though the latter is the uploading of an entire psychology rather than information (and to a brain, rather than a computer544).
      • Computers545
        1. This discussion will be restricted to the role Computers play in the philosophy of Mind and Personal Identity. While I am an animalist546, the mind547 and brain548 are important topics in alternative accounts – in particular the Psychological View549 and the Constitution View550.
        2. The “Computer Model” of the mind seems to be the dominant paradigm in neuroscience. This is the view that the brain operates like a digital computer. This is disputed by, for example "Epstein (Robert) - The empty brain".
        3. There’s a cross-over in much of the above topic with Functionalism551.
        4. Where this gets exciting is in the Transhumanist552 hope of uploading553 (you554, or your mind555) to a computer. This will be dealt with under the head of Uploading556.
        5. A related issue – also currently noted under Transhumanism – is whether we are (most probably) living in a computer simulations, whether or not we might have been uploaded557 there.
        6. Also, there’s the whole question of Artificial Intelligence558, and in particular whether computers – or maybe even computer programs – might ever become persons559.
        7. This topic might get caught up in the “Connectionism” debate, and whether connectionism – which seeks to adopt the neural connectionist architecture of the brain – can account for the “systematicity of cognition”. I don’t want to stray too far down this interesting path.
        8. I might also add the question whether the success of self-teaching game machines (AlphaGo and AlphaZero – I have "Sadler (Matthew) & Regan (Natasha) - Game Changer: AlphaZero's Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI", but it is mostly about chess!) have anything to say about the innateness controversy – whether human beings are born with a “language560 instinct” or whether generic associative learning capabilities are sufficient to explain the near-miraculous acquisition of language by toddlers. |I used to think not – see the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument561.
      • Androids562
        1. Briefly, an Android (Wikipedia: Android) is – or would be were one to be built – a robot with no organic parts that looks and acts like a human being; those looking otherwise are simply “droids”.
          • The Android needs to behave as if it had an appropriate psychology563 – at least one that passes the Turing Test.
          • This psychology need not involve phenomenal consciousness564 – indeed it is one of the problems of philosophy to consider how we could ever know whether or not an android is phenomenally conscious.
          • Could it not be a zombie565?
          • Compare and contrast with Cyborgs566.
        2. The relevance of Androids to the topic of Personal Identity stems from whether or not Androids would be persons567.



Concluding Remarks
  1. Having now discussed Thought Experiments in general, we now in our next Chapter576 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 Addressed577
  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 1580, so I will find it then, I hope.



Works on this topic that I’ve actually read581, include the following:-
  1. Thought Experiments
    1. Thought Experiments582
    2. Intuition586
    3. Future Great Pain Test589
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones591
    2. Fission
    3. Fusion
    4. Psychopathology
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer614
    2. Brain Transplants617
    3. Siliconisation622
    4. Dracula624
    5. Teletransportation625
  4. Transhumanism
    1. Transhumanism634
    2. Nearby Hopes
    3. Far Off Hopes


A further reading list might start with:-
  1. Thought Experiments
    1. Thought Experiments652
    2. Intuition654
    3. Future Great Pain Test663
  2. Principal Examples - Natural
    1. Clones664
    2. Fission
    3. Fusion
    4. Psychopathology
  3. Principal Examples - Artificial
    1. Brain State Transfer678
    2. Brain Transplants679
    3. Siliconisation680
    4. Dracula681
    5. Teletransportation682
  4. Transhumanism
    1. Transhumanism684
    2. Nearby Hopes
    3. Far Off Hopes



In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 3: Footnote 41: Footnote 49: Footnote 246:
  1. I have DSM3
    "American Psychiatric Association - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R)", and
    "Spitzer (Robert), Skodol (Andrew), Gibbon (Miriam) & Williams (Janet) - DSM-III Casebook: A Learning Companion to DSM III",
  2. But the latest edition is DSM5 (May 18, 2013).
  3. See Wikipedia: DSM.
Footnote 421:
  1. "Olson (Eric) - Life After Death and the Devastation of the Grave" thinks not.
Footnote 577: Footnote 592: Footnote 601: Footnote 610: Footnote 612: Footnote 618: Footnote 620: Footnote 623: Footnotes 626, 635, 642: Footnote 628: Footnote 629: Footnote 631: Footnote 638: Footnote 643: Footnote 645: Footnote 646: Footnote 648: Footnote 653: Footnotes 655, 657, 658, 659, 660, 661, 662: Footnote 656: Footnote 665: Footnote 671: Footnote 676: Footnote 689: Footnote 690: Footnote 691: Footnote 692: Footnote 693: Footnote 694: Footnote 696:


Table of the Previous 12 Versions of this Note: (of 14)

Date Length Title
28/09/2022 10:24:58 124703 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
15/05/2022 13:19:12 124668 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
11/04/2022 00:01:26 49951 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
01/10/2021 13:17:46 47052 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
29/03/2021 19:23:31 23063 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
22/03/2021 00:28:48 20387 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
08/02/2021 17:36:58 7826 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
18/04/2019 18:18:43 7807 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
05/04/2016 23:19:41 6999 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
13/01/2015 19:07:41 6779 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
06/11/2014 10:13:26 6758 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
02/10/2014 17:12:29 5532 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)



Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
20/11/2022 18:02:30 None available Thesis - Introduction


Summary of Notes Referenced by This Note

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal Abortion Androids Animalism Animalism - Objections
Animalists Animals Artifacts Baillie - What Am I? Baker - Personal Identity Over Time
Baker - Persons and Bodies - Precis Baker - Persons and Bodies - Response to Garrett Baker - The Human Animal: Big-Tent Metaphysics Baker - What Am I? Bodily Continuity
Body Brain Brain State Transfer Brain Transplants Brains in Vats
Carter – Artifacts of Theseus Causality Cerebrum Chimera Clinical Observations
Clones Closest Continuer Coincidence Commissurotomy Computers
Concepts Consciousness Constitution View Contingent Identity Continuity
Corpses Crypt - Friends Cyborgs Death Descartes
Descartes - Real Distinction Dicephalus Dracula Duplication Embryo
Endurantism Evolution Existence Fetuses Fiction
First-Person Perspective Fission Functionalism Fusion Future Great Pain Test
Human Animals Human Beings Human Persons Individual Information
Intelligence Intermittent Objects Intuition Jen_080204 (Brandom, Chisholm, Baillie) Jen_080317 (Baker)
Johnston - Human Beings Kenny - Reason and Intuition Kinds Kurtz - Persistence (Introduction) Language of Thought
Lewis Life Locke Logic of Identity Matter
Memory Metamorphosis Metaphysics Mind Modality
Multiple Personality Disorder Natural Kinds Olson Olson - Immanent Causation and Life After Death Only 'X' and 'Y' Principle
Organisms Origins Parfit Parfit - What We Believe Ourselves To Be Perdurantism
Persistence Criteria Person Personality Phase Sortals Physical Continuity
Poverty of Stimulus Pregnancy Properties Psychological Continuity Psychological Continuity - Forward
Psychological View Psychology Psychopathology Quantum Mechanics Reduplication Objections
Replication Resurrection Scattered Objects Searle - Minds, Brains, and Programs Self
Siliconisation Similarity Sleep Snowdon - The Self and Personal Identity Society
Sortals Souls Status: Thesis Dashboard (2022: November) Survival Teletransportation
Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction) Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?) Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It) Thesis - Chapter 08 (Arguments against Animalism) Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments)
Thesis - Chapter 11 (Resurrection) Thesis - Method & Form Thought Experiments Transhumanism Transplants
Twinning Unity of the Person Uploading What are We? What Matters
Williams - The Self and the Future Works Read - Explanation Zombies Zygote  

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Summary of Notes Citing This Note

Descartes Parfit PID Note, Book & Paper Usage, 2 Status: Thesis Dashboard (2022: November), 2 Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction), 2
Thesis - Chapter 04 (Basic Metaphysical Issues) Thesis - Chapter 09 (Arguments against the Constitution View) Thesis - Introduction Website Generator Documentation - Functors, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29  

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Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

Author Title Medium Extra Links Read?
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Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 04 (Basic Metaphysical Issues) Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 09 (Arguments against the Constitution View) Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Descartes Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Introduction & Chapter Outlines Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Parfit Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes



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