When I read philosophy treatments of the teleportation paradox and related subjects like swampman, they seem to focus primarily on drawing analogies to various entirely different scenarios (particularly the Ship of Theseus). I don't have any objection to analogies, as a form of argument, but it seems that no one is interested in the physics of the original situation. In particular, I don't understand why no one ever makes an argument similar to the following:
We have two events: a dematerialization, and a materialization. They do not coincide in space-time. That means we can use relativity of simultaneity to divide the scenario into a number of cases:
- The events are separated by a spacelike interval. They appear to be simultaneous in some reference frame, but appear to happen in some order in another reference frame, and the opposite order in a third frame. It also means they are causally independent of one another, so that one event could fail to occur without affecting the other. From the perspective of the person dematerialized, there is no difference between a teleporter and a suicide box, because the materialization is an independent event unrelated to the dematerialization.
- The events are separated by a timelike interval. They have a fixed order in every reference frame, and while we may construct reference frames to minimize the interval between them, we cannot make it arbitrarily short. There is a lower bound on the amount of time that elapses between the events in any given reference frame. So either there is a period of time in which both people exist, or a period of time in which neither exists. Clearly, if they both exist simultaneously they must be different people. If neither exists, it seems a stretch to claim that either one of them is "alive" at that point in time.
- The events are separated by a lightlike interval. This is the limiting case between spacelike and timelike, and therefore requires perfect timing and positioning to achieve exactly. It shares all properties with the timelike case except for the lower bound on the interval between events. That is, we may construct reference frames in which the interval between events is any nonzero period of time, but they still always happen in the same order and never appear to be exactly simultaneous. It still looks like the two people must be distinct from one another for this to make sense in any particular reference frame, and regardless it seems questionable whether such perfect timing can be realized.
(This argument is not meant to be correct or incorrect. It is meant to illustrate the kind of argument that I have not observed in the literature. Other such arguments might focus on, for example, the uncertainty principle, the observer effect, and so on.)
Am I just totally missing the point of this philosophical problem? I realize that the above reasoning seems to have very little to do with philosophy of mind, but if the original can be reformulated so as to avoid this argument, the refined problem might be more interesting (insofar as it might reveal some aspect of the problem which was less evident in the original). If it cannot, then perhaps it is not a real problem in the first place. So... why aren't physical considerations brought up?
Or do they bring this up all the time, and I'm just ignorant of the literature?