The example given of the sock with the hole in it: assume it's the only sock that the owner has with that hole. If the hole goes away, then it no longer has a unique identity, it's just another sock in his drawer. What gave it an identity in the first place was the fact that it was different.
With a ship, its identity appears to be tied to its designation. If you carried on replacing all the parts of the ship, it'd still be the Ship of Theseus, because that's what it's called. Back in the day when I owned a desktop computer, several times this would actually happen. Every component would got swapped out over a period of time. It carried on being my computer throughout all of it.
A computer's identity can be arguably split into two main elements, a computer and a system. If I replace the operating system and wipe all the data, using it feels completely different. Yet it's the same computer, just running different software. If you replaced the crew of a ship with a different crew, then the ship would operate differently, say, in battle, but it would still be the same ship.
You could restore the old system / crew and retrieve the original functionality, but if you replaced both the hardware and the 'software', yet kept the designation, you have two different things with the same name.
A person's body has all of its cells replaced after a period of years. But we don't go around emptying the prisons of long-serving inmates on the basis that the person that committed the crime isn't the same as the person currently in jail.
One can devise conceptions of identity with varying degrees of immutability. The conundrum makes the incorrect assumption that identity itself is an immutable concept. It's not.
Would that be the same link or is it a new one?
"The detachment estimates that approximately 10–15 percent of the timber in Constitution contains original material installed during her initial construction period in the years 1795–1797"
I would recommend the movie to the fans of cinema/indie movies.
See: Sissel v. United States Department of Health & Human Services
Graydon Hoare about what code he has left in Rust.
Even if after 20 years of incremental changes to the band none of the original members are left it will still be considered by many to be the same band (although they will all likely lament the loss of such and such member) By being recognized as the same band it inherits many of the same rights such as performing the same songs as the previous incarnations of the band (assuming of course it owns, or pays royalties to the right holders, but that is an unrelated topic).
However if too many members change at once, or they lose a member whose presence independently defined the band then people will likely not consider it the same band.
The identity is a label applied to the set, as the set changes so does the definition of the label. For the most part assuming members of the original set do not get placed in different new sets all identifying as the original label, people will generally accept the label as applying to the new set which was formed.
I would chalk it up to people being stupid, or language being imprecise. The alternative seems to be to consider every change to the set to require a new label and be identified as a new set.
An interesting twist is that the three founding members regrouped and formed a new band, with the Sugababes still in existence. Which is the real Sugababes?
I've thought about this in the past. Companies get a reputation for doing certain things poorly or doing them well. For example, think of high profile games from a long time ago that have continued to release new versions to this day. How many of the people who worked on v1 have continued to work on the latest release?
On a larger scale, consider what happens when the oldest person in the world dies. Every person born before them is gone. How did we manage to perpetuate all of the ideas, culture and values through to an entirely new set of people? The mechanics are easily observable, but the scale is boggling.
The St Louis Rams have different ownership, players, coaches, and city from the LA Rams. Are they the same team?
In sports, every year something small enough changes to make people accept that it is the same team.
To generalize, physical identity seems to be an important part of ownership, so how does that interact with this concept?
And applies to humans, too, with our continually regenerating cells.
am i the same person as when i was born?
i would like to think that i am... but 'knowing' this makes me question a lot of the seemingly obvious things about self, to the point where i wonder exactly what i am, and realise that it is very poorly defined to start with... and probably not so special. :)
also... Trigger's broom is classic. :)
Now I don't know what happens if I cut out the left frame rail and replace it, then cut out the right rail and replace that, then the front sub-frame, then the rear. Whichever section has a VIN plate riveted to it??
although the regulations in the US are famously lax compared to the rest of the developed world... so maybe there is just nothing there. XD
how can we even tell if it is a concrete concept? its very poorly defined to begin with too...
I suspect that identity is just another way of grouping things by properties, in this case including sharing spatial and temporal history - I am the same I was 10 minutes ago, because I'm made mostly of what I was made 10 minutes ago, and I moved somewhat continuously through space, etc.
And therein lies the entire discipline of Philosophy.
Saying "it depends on your definitions" sidesteps the whole issue of how you come to these definitions, and what impact they have on how we view reality. In other words, it hides the profound issues under the rug.
For example, a common argument against moving your brain information to a robot as a way to "live forever", is that then it's no longer you (since your physical brain ceazes to live).
The Ship of Theseus sidesteps this argument, since an example of it would be replacing your neurons one by one with artificial ones -- with you awake.
With such a procedure, you feel exactly the same at all times, and you have no recourse to saying your personality was merely "transfered".
It feels like you were the physical person X, and after these steps, you were the same person with a robotic brain, but with no abrapt change or loss of consciousness, just a continuous process.
There's a naive (mostly anglosaxon/empiricist) idea that philosophy is just noise because of the conflicting definitions of things.
Whereas it's the total opposite: questioning and disecting the definitions we use (and what they presuppose), is the exact role of philosophy.
The Ship of Theseus (and countless others ideas and paradoxes) are tools in questioning those beliefs and "definitions".
Those examples don't stem because of our confusion about what is same -- they are tools to probe what we consider same, to poke holes in our idea of sameness.
And I call the objection to this naive, because having a "single objective definition" is not something possible (like science doesn't claim to know some ultimate "reality", just to make ever better models and approximations of it).
We have to live with various ideas about identity/sameness, and we need philosophy and arguments like The Ship, to question them and see their partial nature.
Sure, have a discussion about different definitions of sameness. (Ironic, that.) Poke holes in the various definitions. That's fine. Just don't have conversations where two different people have different implicit definitions of sameness, and each sees the other's position as clearly stupid, because the other person is using an unstated, but different, definition of "same".
As you say, discussing X while having 2 different ideas of X is obviously wrong -- people practically talking past each other.
But that's only if the discussion is not philosophical but just a practical, everyday conversation.
That's because in the latter people talk and talk about X while X goes unexamined, where the essense of a philosophical conversation is to examine X, and investigation how each one defines it, and what might be correct or wrong about any singular definition.
A non-philosophical discussion would be:
- X song is the same as Y, they stole it.
- No it's not, they just have the same chord changes.
- They should come out with their own, they're copycats.
Whereas a philosophical disussion would be in the vein of:
"what is sameness?" (itself), "when we can say that a song is stolen from another?" etc.