Although taking these two questions as equivalent does simplify the thought experiment, it goes so strongly against my intuition that I find it incredibly unsatisfying. Of course, I know that doesn’t make me right. But, If the stream of consciousness that my mind is currently experiencing ceases to exist, it gives me no comfort to think that someone exactly like me would live on. However, I recognize that this statement is filled with a ton of metaphysical baggage, and Occam’s razor may suggest Parfit is correct to eliminate the concept of personal identity. I do wonder though if we really can properly describe our reality without the concept of personal identity.
So from a scientific analysis, it is the concept that remains, and the materials/constituency of the whole are details that must be abstracted (unless you have a way to diff at the molecular and/or subatomic level).
From an philosophical view of identity, I don't see much in past works that recognize how a person changes through their life path - I would most certainly make some different decisions than the 20y ago self - does that mean I am a different person? If not, then how do you determine identity? For every moment could it possibly be that you are a different person, and there are infinite instances of "you"?
Which is why I think this argument is ridiculous. People approach philosophy trying to get their mutually contradictory assumptions to work out rather than accept some assumptions are wrong. Human identity is a social construct not a physical one, so it only needs to work in human terms.
PS: Yes, that means I and You have no well defined meaning, they also don't need a well defined meaning to be useful.
Cite? This is an unproven hypothesis.
I don't mean there is only one electron ever or something like that, just you can't actually distinguish them. There is also math which works better if Electrons have no identity.
"The fact that particles can be identical has important consequences in statistical mechanics. Calculations in statistical mechanics rely on probabilistic arguments, which are sensitive to whether or not the objects being studied are identical."
That might have been the first time I recognized identity as a construct, though it wasn't until much later that I began to think of "things", including people, as constantly changing.
As is always the case, someone (in this case, Parfit) says 'we have to give up the notion of X', where X in this case is personal identity, but that seems to me to be an over-reaction; instead, all we have to do is to accept that there are corner cases where our intuitions about the universality of language do not work. For the most part, we can talk about personal identity without problems, but in the corners, we have to be more specific.
We have lived our lives with ambiguous language, so is it that much of a stretch to accept that that's all there is, that there is no Platonic-ideal, complete-and-sound language no matter how careful we are with definitions and usage?
Besides, create an entirely new ship out of the discarded planks, and the question becomes not "is that Theseus's ship?", but "why is Theseus removing perfectly functional planks from his ship and replacing them with identical ones?". :)
What does it mean for religion if conscious AI emerges, or someone has half of their brain implanted into a second body, and both bodies are conscious entities that think they are the original?
What does it mean for religion if even in 1000 years conscious AI never emerges, and if it's impossible to get two halves of a brain to "wake up" in two different bodies?