The Self and the Future” by Bernard Williams

The Self and the Future” by Bernard Williams

Bernard Williams provides a profound analysis of the potential exchange of bodies. He attempts to view this problem from different positions singling out potential opportunities and reactions of both A- and B-bodies. It is important to underline that hypothetically such a dilemma is extremely difficult to solve since it is needs a profound analysis of the situation when it can make no difference to our judgment about whether the A-body in case (v) is the same as the A-body person in case (vi) whether the B-body person in case (vi) has A’s memories transferred to him/her/it. In such a way, it is necessary to thoroughly analyze the situation in order to find out whether it can make any difference or not.
Initially, it is necessary to point out that, while discussing the potential opportunity of body exchange, Bernard Williams underline that there are certain limitations that should be taken into consideration when hypothetical cases of body exchange are analyzed. This is why, in order to find out the position of Bernard Williams, it is necessary to take into account these limitations primarily.
In this respect, it should be said that initially both A and B have their own past experience that inevitably influence their mind and conscience even after the body exchange. Practically, it means that the past experience of each person, or body in our case, inevitably influences his/her perception and conscience. In such a situation, the body exchange cannot lead to the exchange of past experience. This is why for us, as well as for A and B bodies it will make difference on the condition the mind and conscience of A-body would not be transferred to B-body. Potentially, it is possible to admit that the transferring of A-memories to B-body will also have the same effect, i.e. A-body will actually fully change its body along with its memories. As a result, the B-body will have A’s memories and, thus, according to Williams, it will make no difference for us.
However, it is also necessary to remember about the fact that the body exchange occurring with the transferring of A’s memories may lead to the change of bodies and conscious and for both bodies the exchange would probably have no difference but for us, as objective witnesses that observe both bodies from the external world, the exchange would inevitably make substantial difference since physically we will perceive the difference between A- and B-body, while the memories of A’s will be in its new body. In other words, we will perceive the physical difference of the appearance of new bodies because for us the appearance of both of them will remain the same, i.e. A–body will be definitely A, while B-body will be B, but, in actuality, after the exchange of the bodies and A’s transfer of memories in the B-body, physically, we will deal with the same bodies and it will make no difference for us till the moment the body starts recollects his memory. As a result, we will be definitely puzzled finding out that B-body actually has A’s memories. This is why such an exchange will make a difference for us.
At the same time, it is also necessary to remember about another limitation of the body exchange that Bernard Williams appeals to. To put it more precisely, he argues that it is necessary to take into consideration the individual’s will to get such an exchange. Otherwise, the body exchange would be practically impossible even though one of the bodies agreed to exchange it would be impossible to overcome the refusal of another body. This limitation is really important and it will make difference for us in the perception of the bodies if the exchange could somehow occur against the will of both or at least one of the bodies.
Basically, such an opportunity is practically unacceptable for Bernard Williams and, thus, would stand ion the ground that the case discussed will make difference for us on the ground that the chance of such exchange is practically excluded by Bernard Williams.
Moreover, the exchange of bodies and transferring of A’s memories do not actually imply the transferring of A’s conscience, or will. This is why, in actuality, it is again possible to find substantial contradiction between the body exchange and its outcome since, regardless, the body exchange and memories transferring, it will be still quite possible to distinguish the difference between A-body and B-body in the result of the presence of A’s conscience and will in the A-body which could not be transferred from A- to B-body. In this respect, it is possible to agree with Bernard Williams that the second limitation cannot be overcome, i.e. it is practically impossible to exchange bodies regardless their will.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that there is a real possibility of different judgments concerning the case discussed. To put it more precisely, some can still argue that it will make no difference to our judgments; while on the other hand, it is possible to estimate the contrary that it will make difference. In this respect, it should be said that even Bernard Williams would rather take both positions if the case was carefully analyzed. Nonetheless, it seems to be more convincing that, at any rate, it will make difference to our judgment because we will inevitably perceive either physical or spiritual difference between bodies and they cannot be really absolutely the same even though A’s memories are transferred to B-body.


Bibliography:
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/BPL_Images/Content_store/Sample_chapter/9780631234418/001.pdf