Monday, February 20

magazine quiz monday: the philosopher's magazine

this is an interesting one. really gets to the nitty gritty.  these are the kinds of conversations that can cause a sweet dinner with friends go sour real fast. souls, reincarnation, cloning...all topics that people feel passionate about. and boy, can it get blood boiling, too!

very interesting!

Staying Alive

The Personal Identity Game
The aim of the game is to stay alive!
There are three rounds. In each round, you will be presented with a scenario and then offered two choices. The decisions that you make determine whether you stay alive or perish. You should always base your decisions on nothing more than the desire to keep yourself in existence. Also, note that you should take each scenario presented to you at face value. The situation will be as described - there are no "tricks" - and you do not need to worry about other 'what ifs'.
At the end of the game you will discover if you have stayed alive or not, although, being a philosophical game, the answer won't be that straightforward...
Round 1: The Teletransporter Choice

You have been chosen to go on a very important mission to Mars. You have no choice in this matter, you must go. But you can choose your means of transport.
One method is teletransportation. You will step into a scanner here on earth which will destroy your brain and body, while recording theexact states of all your cells. This information will then be transmitted to a replicator on Mars. Travelling at the speed of light, the message will take three minutes to reach its destination. The replicator will create, out of new matter, a brain and body exactly like yours. The person on Mars will look like you, think like you, in fact be indistinguishable from you. He or she will certainly feel as though they have merely fallen asleep on Earth and then woken up on Mars. This method is 100 per cent reliable.
The other choice is to go by spaceship. This is very risky and there is 50 per cent chance that the ship will not complete the journey and you will die in transit. But if you do successfully take the spaceship, then your body and brain won't at any stage have been destroyed.
You must make the choice which you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving. Click one of the two options below:
Take me to the teletransporter
It's the spaceship for me

Round 2: The Memory Choice

The teletransportation has taken place. Welcome to Mars!
Silicon or virus?
Life on Mars turns out not to be a bed of roses. In fact, two strange viruses have evolved on the planet which are causing a lot of problems. The first destroys body parts. Fortunately, medical science is very evolved and people are simply given artificial limbs and organs as required. You've been hit pretty hard by this virus and, in fact, almost your entire body is now made up of artificial parts.
However, there exists a second virus which attacks the brain. It is peculiarly nasty in that it doesn't destroy the brain, rather it messes up the neural pathways, leading to a loss of memory and also a change in personality traits. One person who had the virus had been a successful rock musician. Now he can't even remember what his own songs sound like, but he's become rather good at accounting. It is indeed an odd virus!
We're sad to say that you've caught the virus. Medics can get around the virus by replacing pieces of the brain with advanced forms of silicon chip. In your case, they would have to do this to almost all of your brain. But trials show that you can be sure that the result will be the total preservation of your memories, personality, plans, beliefs and so on, and a person as able to carry on living a normal life as is, well, normal.
The alternative is to succumb to the virus with its consequent loss of memory and change in character. You must make the choice which you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving. Click one of the two options below:
It's the silicon for me!
Let the virus do its worst!

Round 3: The Reincarnation Choice

The operation was successful! What's more, a few years later, advances in technology enabled scientists to perform a similar operation which gave you back an organic brain and body, so now you're fully human again.
Die or Freeze?
Strange as it may seem, it has been discovered that reincarnation of a sort does actually occur. It seems that there is some immaterial part - call it a soul - in all human beings. On death, it leaves the body and enters the body of a new-born animal or human. It does not take memory with it, of course, for if it did we'd have known this were true already! It is thought that it may have some effect in determining one's character, but given the evidence for the strong influence of genes and upbringing, this effect is thought to be relatively small.
Even stranger than the fact of reincarnation, it seems that our souls die if stored at below freezing point for longer than a week.
These facts are vital to the last choice you must make. You are very ill, but scientists have almost found a cure for the disease you have. Further, they have also developed a technique to 'deep freeze' humans, enabling them to be revived later with their memories and character intact. You have two choices:
The first choice is to let the disease take its toll. Your body will die, but your soul will live on. The second choice is to be deep frozen, then thawed and cured later. This will destroy your soul and only has a thirty per cent chance of success; that is, there is a 70 per cent chance that the thawing and curing won't work.
You must make the choice which you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving. Click one of the two options below:
Let my body die!
Freeze me now!

Moment of Truth

The freezing, thawing and curing were all a success. Well done!
Did you stay alive?
Congratulations! According to one theory of personal identity, you have survived!
You chose:
Round 1: Take me to the teletransporter!
Round 2: I'll take the silicon!
Round 3: Freeze me!
There are basically three kinds of things which could be required for the continued existence of your self. One is bodily continuity, which actually may require only parts of the body to stay in existence (e.g., the brain). Another is psychological continuity, which requires, for the continued existence of the self, the continuance of your consciousness, by which is meant your thoughts, ideas, memories, plans, beliefs and so on. And the third possibility is the continued existence of some kind of immaterial part of you, which might be called the soul. It may, of course, be the case that a combination of one or more types of these continuity is required for you to survive.
Your choices are consistent with the theory known as psychological reductionism. On this view, all that is required for the continued existence of the self is psychological continuity. Your three choices show that this is what you see as central to your sense of self, not any attachment to a particular substance, be it your body, brain or soul. However, some would say that you have not survived at all, but fallen foul of a terrible error. In the teletransporter case, for example, was it really you that travelled to Mars or is it more correct to say that a clone or copy of you was made on Mars, while you were destroyed?
How did you do compared to other people?
46895 out of 240807 people chose the same path through the scenarios as you. To date, 165971 people have followed a path through these scenarios which is consistent with at least one of the three theories of personal identity specified above, compared to 74836 people who have not.

If you want to see if you'd stay alive, click here to begin.

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