Property dualism posits the existence of only the physical substance, but the existence of both mental and physical properties.

The teletransportation paradox presents a situation in which a person is exactly scanned, atom-by-atom, and the person is recreated in another location. Does the person "survive"?

It seems to me that the person would not survive. If another person in the future, or maybe even the present, happens to have the exact physical make-up that I do, it seems fairly obvious that "I" will not experience being that person. If personal identity cannot be transported through just another being having the same physical make-up that I do, then it seems that one does not survive teletransportation. For another argument for this, see this answer.

According to property dualism, the self is the set of mental properties one has. As Conifold states in this comment,

On property dualism disembodiment is problematic but "transferability" isn't (indeed we can transfer patterns from say acoustic to optical waves, but not "disembody" them).

This seems to me that the person survives teletransportation; one retains the sense of self through it. If one has the same mental properties, then they are the same person. However, this is at odds with what I said earlier.

If survival through the teletransportation paradox cannot occur, does that disprove property dualism?

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    Existence of mental and physical properties is posited by most ontologies, including physicalism. Property dualism simply holds that mental properties are irreducible to physical ones. So if we assimilate "person" to mental properties, and those are not copied, then yes, it will be a different "person". However, the process may well copy the mental properties as well, due to some metaphysical law, and the above assimilation is dubious. A physicalist may well reject it, and hold that the copy is a different "person" as well, albeit with identical properties. It is a question of convention.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 5:51
  • @Conifold Thank you for the clarification. If I’m not mistaken, the property dualist holds that one’s first-person perspective, or sense of self, can be maintained or transferred even under the annihilation of my current brain, but the physicalist denies that (how exactly is this a matter of convention, if one can be shown to occur?). However, both deny this transfer simply if one has someone who is physically identical to you, correct? (As would be the case, for example, in the multiverse, where stating transfer will occur seems silly)
    – APCoding
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 15:22
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    Transferring the "sense of self" and such is not specific to property dualism. To physicalists, the "first-person perspective" is smoke and mirrors, but they need not deny transferability of that. In any case, if the original is not destroyed both it and its copy may well have the same "sense of self", and said sense gets interrupted every time they fall asleep. That we easily give up "metaphysical" criteria of personhood in these cases indicates that it is a pragmatic/conventional notion rather than a metaphysical one. A "person" is whatever the society finds practical to recognize as such.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 18:14
  • @Conifold I still don’t quite get how this is a purely practical issue. It doesn’t seem to matter if society would not recognize me as the same person I was a year ago; I still feel as if my existence continued. If transferability like this is accepted as possible, do physicalists as well as dualists have to accept the fact that I can feel as if I continued existing, through the mind of another being similar to me? To me, this still seems to be an absurd conclusion.
    – APCoding
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 20:35
  • I am not sure this "feeling" matters that much for personhood. If a copy is made it would have the same feeling of "continued existence" as the original (and we distinguish the "original" by physical factors, not stronger "feeling"). There is regular night sleep and amnesia, where this "continuity" is lost. Then there are people with dissociative identity disorder (split personality) that sometimes succeed at remerging their personalities, or conjoined twins that "share mind". The question of what makes a "person" seems to be more like a question of which arrangements of dots make a "cluster".
    – Conifold
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


Until we see teleportation actually occur - and not just a matter of a few atoms where, notably, it is not matter being transported, but information - then this this kind of question is purely speculative and a tower of one speculation built upon another.

There are plenty of philosophical questions around the locus of technology, society and people which require addressing. This is not one of them.

  • The nature of my question is of course speculative - I’m asking if property dualism (one of the more popular theories of mind, I think) stands if one accepts that teletransportation is not possible (again, highly speculative)
    – APCoding
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 5:20

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