Imagine, in the future, we have mastered the technology of cloning.

The rich and powerful have got their own cloning devices. They clone their bodies and keep the clones in a cryogenic environment to preserve them. A microchip is implanted into their brains, and petabytes memory is backed up into a cloud server.

You (hypothetically) are one of these rich and powerful people, and you have been involved in a freak accident, permanently destroying your spinal cord and your eyes, thereby forcing you to take refuge in your clone, your memory and consciousness being transferred from your microchip into the latter's microchip.

Are you still be the same person? Are you yourself?

Source: A hypothetical situation proposed to me.

  • If your understanding of self only includes your memories and consciousness then it would mean, that you are still yourself, at first. But remembering the accident and knowing, that you are not in your original body, are very likely to affect you on some level, so you would not be the same as before the transfer.
    – user33648
    Jun 5 '18 at 0:48
  • We still don't know enough about the neurobiological basis of consciousness to make such claims. Jun 5 '18 at 5:42
  • Everything depends on your definition of "same person".
    – Chelonian
    Jun 5 '18 at 16:23
  • First, you're talking about some theoretical technology of duplication, not cloning. A clone is nothing more than an identical twin (though it may be a different age) and so clearly an individual. But as for duplicates, well, that's just a matter of definition, and not an interesting question. Jun 5 '18 at 16:50

Identity is an ambiguous notion. (1) The Morning Star and the Evening Star are identical in the sense that they are one and the same object, namely the planet Venus. In contrast (2) two items coming off an assembly line can be identical in the sense that they are precisely similar.

I should say that the freak accident person is not identical in sense 1 to the clone to which 'memory' is transferred . For one thing something is true of the person which is not true of the clone, namely that they were involved in a freak accident. For another, memories cannot strictly speaking be transferred from the person, via the cloud, to the clone. One can only remember things, events, property instances, states of affairs or acts that one experienced. (As Tyler Burge put it : 'To remember that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, one can have acquired the information in many ways. To remember Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, one must have been there.'*) The clone remembers nothing that the person remembered because the clone experienced none of the relevant things, events, &c. The clone has only memory-beliefs that match one-to-one what the person remembered.

*Tyler Burge, 'Memory and Persons', The Philosophical Review, Vol. 112, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 289-337 : 289.)

The person and the clone are not identical in sense (2) because they are not precisely similar. For one thing the person is dead (with no memories); the clone is very much alive (replete with memory-beliefs).

  • "The person and the clone are not identical in sense (2) because they are not precisely similar." For the same reason I am not the one whom I was 5 minutes ago.
    – rus9384
    Jun 5 '18 at 16:17
  • Agreed : but I, and the successive I's that replace the present 'I', can live with that. What did you make of Derek Parfit's 'Reasons and Persons' ?
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jun 5 '18 at 17:47
  • The predecessor 'I' is the one who present 'I', or not even me, believes to be the predecessor 'I'. And there can be multiple successor 'I's, so no contradiction here. Therefore, me and my clones won't think of each other as of same person, but all will think of past me as of ours' past 'I'.
    – rus9384
    Jun 5 '18 at 20:21

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