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International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

Managing Editor: Koridze, Georg

Ed. by Hüntelmann, Rafael / Meixner, Uwe / Tegtmeier, Erwin

Editorial Board: Addis, Laird / Davies, Brian / Hochberg, Herbert / Johansson, Ingvar / Kanzian, Christian / Klima, Gyula / Koons, Robert C / Künne, Wolfgang / Löffler, Winfried / Mulligan, Kevin / Nef, Frederic / Oaklander, Nathan / Oderberg, David / Orilia, Francesco / Plantinga, Alvin / Potrc, Matjaz / Rapp, Christof / Reicher-Marek, Maria Elisabeth / Schantz, Richard / Scholz, Oliver R. / Seibt, Johanna / Simons, Peter / Smith, Barry / Strobach, Niko / Trettin, Käthe / Wachter, Daniel

CiteScore 2018: 0.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.257
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.369

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Why We Shouldn’t Pity Schrödinger’s Kitty: Revisiting David Lewis’ Worry About Quantum Immortality in a Branching Multiverse

Bartlomiej A. Lenart
Published Online: 2019-03-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2019-2006


David Lewis cautions that although a no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics entails immortality for trans-world selves, the nature of the branching leaves us crippled, lonely, deathly ill (although never dead), and mentally infirm, meaning that immortal life, on such terms, amounts to an existence in eternal torment. This paper argues that the problem Lewis points to is in fact one of individuation and that a synthesis of Lewis’ own notion of perdurance and Robert Nozick’s closest continuer theory, when cast in the mould of a deterministic multiverse (as conceived by the Oxford quantum physicist David Deutsch), individuates trans-world selves in such a way as to allow to prune the infinitesimal expectation of a miserable eternal existence from the histories of most trans-world agents. Thus, contrary to Lewis’ warning that if personal identity is a trans-world notion, then we should all shake in our shoes, this paper argues that even if we are trans-world selves, we almost certainly have nothing to worry about.

Keywords: personal identity; diachronic identity; trans-world identity; multiverse


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-03-08

Published in Print: 2019-04-24

Citation Information: Metaphysica, Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 117–136, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2019-2006.

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