I'm sure this question has been asked somewhere before, but I don't know the name of this type of question, and so I've been unable to find it. Any pointer to literature written on the topic would be appreciated.

Say scientists made two completely identical rooms, put you in one of them, and then proceeded to make an exact replica of you, atom by atom, in the other room.

This person in the other room would presumably have identical consciousness, believe themselves to be you, and value their own life just as much as you value yours.

If the scientist announced that they would come into your room in 5 minutes and kill you, I would not think that people would gain comfort by thinking "oh they have an exact replica of me in the other room anyway".

The heart of the question is if the value (appreciation?) of one's own consciousness is justified:

If I do not take comfort in my clone living on when I am gone, why should I care for the person that is going to be me in the next moment? Why is it different?


Question closed as being unclear, and I understand why. I have two assumptions, than I think, but do not know, are correct:

  1. Consciousness is a matter of information processing - thus ones own consciousness can, atleast in theory, be replicated on a clone.
  2. Upon building such a clone, no information is shared between them. What happens to your clone somewhere else, does not affect you in any way.

Imagine then 3 scenarios:

  1. You have no clone, and someone says he is now going to kill you.
  2. You have a clone, and someone says he is now going to kill you.
  3. You have a clone and someone says he is going to kill the clone.

Personally, and I assume for everyone else, the first scenario is terrifying, and its not mitigated much, if at all, in the second. The third one however, is a bit better. Sure we would not like our clone to die, just as we wouldent like anyone else to die, but if its him or me, I would be more comfortable with him going.

If no cells in our body will be the same in 20 years, could it be said that it is the equavilent of a clone, and in that case, how can one justify caring for that clone, more than the clone in the above example?

  • 1
    Because the building material (cells and atoms) isn't the carrier of "consciousness", dynamical patterns (of neurons firing) are. Slow replacement of cells does not disrupt them much, while the killing does.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 11:00
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of The "Brain" of Theseus?
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 11:01
  • Where does "and the ability to observe something" come into the question? Are you talking about the ability to observe your other self, or even the slow regeneration of your own body? It's not really observation if it's only based on what you've been told. And there lies the crux, perhaps: if both the clone and the regenerative process can only be known (held as truths) indirectly (without direct empirical evidence), they cannot have direct implications for the consciousness.
    – Joachim
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:42
  • Welcome to SE Philosophy! Thanks for your contribution. Please take a quick moment to take the tour or find help. You can perform searches here or seek additional clarification at the meta site. Don't forget, when someone has answered your question, you can click on the checkmark to reward the user!
    – J D
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 14:18
  • 1
    In the world of teleportation (à la Star Trek transporter), people seem to have no problem whatsoever with being destroyed once a copy of their bodies has been created elsewhere. I've never understood how anyone could be comfortable with that process. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


Yes you should care because after 5 minutes you are already a different person who just happens now to have a twin sister whom people are talking about murdering.

In the "Many Worlds" interpretation of QM this happens all the time anyway. Most of us don't worry too much about what happens to the versions of us in all the parallel universes because we've got used to the idea that our subjective experience is limited to one branch and live our lives on that basis.

But in your setup the clone is in the next room and therefore qualifies as just another person like you in the world you live in.

  • Yes! Whether or not they’re OP’s clone is even irrelevant, perhaps, as there is a sentient, biological, physiological human being at risk of murder. The reason one might care is the same one might care if any innocent person is killed! (Though genetic similarity may be particularly uncanny for some.)
    – eurieka
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 22:06
  • @eurieka It looks like OP has now edited his question to a harder one :)
    – user68014
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 9:30
  • It is a completely different question than it was before! :D
    – eurieka
    Commented Nov 30, 2019 at 1:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .