To Be: A Story About Personal Identity & Responsibility [10:05]


This amazing story beautifully illustrates the problems of personal identity.  There is a special person in the future and the past I “identify with” and am “responsible for” – namely me!  But some plausible science fiction scenarios make us question what it mean to be me.  This video has lots of questions for both metaphysics and ethics.

Discussion Questions

  • Would you step into the first box if it meant that ‘you’ would be disintegrated immediately?  What about if it was a minute later?
  • Is the second copy of you actually you?  What does that even mean?  And there now two you’s or is it a completely separate and new person?
  • Is the woman at the end of the video not responsible for what ‘she’ did earlier in the video?  How is this possible if she is a ‘different’ person?  Or is she the same, even though she is a copy?

Keywords: ethics, responsibility, identity, metaphysics, morality, thought experiment, philosophy


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