If you go deep enough in physics, you don't have "wood". You just have a wavefunction.

Fair enough, but surely the idea is to explain wood and the changes therein by reference to more fundamental physics. So even if the idea of change doesn't show up at the very most fundamental levels, there must be some level at which change becomes a subject of physics. Otherwise, I don't see how physics could profess to explain anything, since it would have nothing to do with empirical (and changable) phenomena.

Of course, lower level can be relevant : for example the fact there is no such thing as "this electron" contributes to saying that personal identity depends of configuration more than of "the same matter". But it's only a minor argument towards it, for me.

I'd love to talk more about that. Do you see configurations as platonic? And if our configuration is in constant flux (as is hard to doubt) on some level, do we therefore need to distinguish essential aspects of the configuration from accidental ones? And wouldn't this view admit of two distinct persons having the same personal identity? That seems odd.

Well, I will say that a movie is "the same movie", whatever it is stored on analog film, optical support, magnetic support or ssd storage. The content and the physical support are different issue. I'll say that a movie "changed" if you cut or add some scene, or add subtitles, ... but not if you copy the file from your magnetic hard disk to an USB key, even if there are much more differences at physical level between the HD and the USB key.

The same is true for personal identity, in my point of view. The personal identity is in the config... (read more)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

by orthonormal 1 min read12th Aug 2010805 comments


This post has too many comments to show them all at once! Newcomers, please proceed in an orderly fashion to the newest welcome thread.