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Old 12-09-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Is Transhuman Space a "silly" genre?

Originally Posted by Brett View Post
Sound metaphysical position. The answers to all metaphysical questions depend wholly on the definitions chosen, and different definitions are suitable for different purposes.
The specific clash here is between two concepts of "identity" with different definitions: qualitative identity and numerical identity. Qualitative identity is being an entity of a particular kind, defined by particular traits. Numerical identity is being a particular individual.

Grammatically, qualitative identity is represented by common nouns: I am a human being, I am a libertarian, I am a GURPS player. Numerical identity is represented by proper nouns: I am Bill Stoddard. Much of what happens in discussion of this topic is attempts to turn proper nouns into common nouns, so that being-a-particular-individual is equated with being-an-entity-of-a-particular-kind. This is encouraged in THS, of course, by the postulated available of cheap, easy copying methods for (certain) sapient beings.

But there's a different question that's attached to this, which is that of the persistence of viewpoint. This is, if not a subjective question, a question of the nature of subjectivity as such, of what it is to have a subjective viewpoint. The question seems to attach to the question of numerical identity: If we envision individual A at time 1 and individual B at time 2 as having the same subjective viewpoint, then we envision A and B as being the same individual. So "the same" attaches to the question of what we mean when we say that there is continuity of viewpoint.

Does that seem to capture the crucial issues?

Bill Stoddard
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