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Ship of Theseus

Do you think it is the same object? (read below for details)

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1 Ship of Theseus on Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:10 pm

EccentricPhilosopher

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The origin of the "Ship of Theseus" is that, and I quote: "The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch , Theseus

The basic point of this is the question on if you replace all parts of an object over time, is it still the same object in the end when all parts are replaced?

There are definitely sources for many answers out there, but what is your answer to this?

I'll post my answer after this goes a little ways and see what comes of it.



Last edited by EccentricPhilosopher on Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:11 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Update)

2 Re: Ship of Theseus on Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:26 pm

Ima Pealover

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For objects, I believe that if you replace all of the parts, the object is a new object, not the original. The more interesting question to me, is if you replace all of the parts of a human, is the human a new human, or the original human Question What do you all think?

3 Re: Ship of Theseus on Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:29 pm

EccentricPhilosopher

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Ima Pealover wrote:For objects, I believe that if you replace all of the parts, the object is a new object, not the original. The more interesting question to me, is if you replace all of the parts of a human, is the human a new human, or the original human Question What do you all think?

I believe the greater question is, not if it would be the same human or not, but if the personality and being, would be the same or not.

4 ship on Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:30 pm

hazzmta

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what is the difference between changing the wood on the ship and the original wood on the ship rotting over time? either way, the physical makeup of the wood on the ship will be different than the original.

5 Re: Ship of Theseus on Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:20 pm

vicster

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Well, here is something to think about - our cells are constantly regenerating. It is kind of like replacing the wood in the ship. In fact, I think every 7 years we replace all of our skin cells. At what point do you say it can no longer be considered out original skin? Surely, at the point when only a few skin cells have been replaced it is still the same skin. I agree with Sue that the answer to this question is different for a conscious being and an inanimate object. I think it should still be considered the same person, even if the person's entire body has been replaced. I would only consider it a different person if their brain had been replaced. However, the identity of an object is purely physical, so I think it could be considered a new ship once the majority of it's parts have been replaced.

Hazzmta, in response to your comment, I think the difference between the wood changing states by rotting and the wood being replaced by new wood is that in the case of the wood rotting, you still have a form or remnant of the original wood, kind of like ice, water and steam. As a person ages, they are still the same person, just in a different phase of themselves.

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