Crime and punishment: existential style

Following on from other’s recent discussions of crime and punishment, I offer these completely unhelpful transhumanist thoughts:

  • A mind from the past can become completely different from the one that committed the crime. So is it fair to punish someone in the present, when their current mind state bears as much similarity to the mind that committed the crime in the past is it does to a completely separate person?
  • A body replaces most of it’s cells over the course of many years. So it’s not really someone’s body we convict, but their structure. What happens when people can upload? Supposing we can represent that structure digitally or otherwise (but in a form of easily copy-able data) what happens to the replicates of that individual? Are they convicted as well? Does it become illegal for other people to harbour that sequence of data, even if it’s in stasis and getting no processor time? (which is essentially the same as dead, but with the difference of being revivable at a moments notice)
  • Continuing from the assumption that it’s the structure of a criminal we want to punish/remove from society: Since a baby is essentially derived from the fair proportion of the parent’s structure, if the parent commits a crime, then shouldn’t the child also be considered a criminal? Even though the child takes some of it’s structure from the other, hopefully non-criminal, parent, the first point seems to imply that exact similarity isn’t required.

(Note, most of these thoughts are me just musing on a theoretical level that is not at all pragmatic. I don’t actually believe children of criminals are also guilty)



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