Thought-Experimental Results, and More Questions
In the story Forking, Elliot Otley is accidentally duplicated. During part of the story, each Elliot regards his counterpart as another man. Later, he comes to regard the other Elliot as himself. The difference between those two attitudes is dramatic.
When he thinks of the other Elliot as a different person, it is as a rival for his property, career and family, everything that he holds dear. The relationship is one of competition and animosity. When he starts to think of the other Elliot as himself, the animosity vanishes, replaced by sympathy and understanding. The relationship becomes cooperative.
When Elliot first learns of the other Elliot’s existence, he responds with hatred and fear, as to a dangerous competitor. Later, the two Elliots stop competing, and are fully cooperative. Yet their beliefs about the relevant facts of the case have not changed. Throughout the story, Elliot knows how travel-by-information works, and what went wrong that led to his duplication. What changed Elliot’s mind about his relationship to the other was not new factual information. (more…)