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- On cloning minds, persons and selves 3 answers
Most of us have seen Star Trek episodes. Suppose that we have a Star Trek type matter transporter. Basically this can be described as a machine which examines an object's structure down to the atomic scale, disassembles the object (i.e., vaporizes it), and then reconstructs the object again down to the atomic scale in another location. Suppose you step into a transporter. You hear the hum of the transporter starting up. But then you hear beeping sounds indicating an error has occurred. The transporter operator grabs a phaser (i.e., a "space gun), points it at you and says "I'm sorry, sir. The transporter malfunctioned. It made another 'you' down on the planet surface but for some reason it didn't automatically vaporize the original object (i.e., the 'you' still standing here), so I'm afraid that I'm going to have to do it myself. Sorry about this."
Or, to look at this from another perspective, suppose after hearing the hum of transporter you open your eyes and find yourself beamed down to a planet surface, but then the transport operator on the planet approaches you and says "I'm sorry, sir. There's been a transporter malfunction. You're a duplicate. The original 'you' is still standing on the transporter pad on the starship orbiting this planet, and he's demanding that I vaporize you so that we can reset the transporter and start the transport operation all over again."
Matter transporters seen in Star Trek (or movies such as "The Prestige") seem to assume that the soul is transported along with the atoms when a matter transporter reassembles a person. Is this true? If you were transported by such a machine, would you really be able to see out of the eyes of this fresh new copy of you as is shown in Star Trek? But if so, then how does one explain situations such as the first scenario above in the hypothetical case that a transporter 'error' leaves the original person intact for some reason? Doesn't the physical body of the original 'you' have at least as much of a claim to be the rightful physical owner of your soul as the duplicated copy of 'you'?