The hardest questions to answer are the ones related to the self. What is it that makes you who you are? If you had to identify yourself without the use of your physical features, how would you go about it? In the quantum realm, you are nothing but a stream of particles. A particle that once constituted you now constitutes someone else. You occupy no fixed space the way you think you do. You're not as solid as you think you are.

Quantum Physics and reality

Quantum physics is in par with reality. That is rule number 1. The macro World we're used to is what's not fundamentally true.

But since we're immersed in the macro world, our reality is a lie. So if we're living in a reality that's slightly warped, how much of what we know is true?

What is identity? What is consciousness? Every sentient being possesses some kind of awareness. But this quality of being aware can be achieved by pretty much any form of intelligence, with time. This is what researchers and scientists fear about the pace at which artificial intelligence is growing. Awareness is not unique or exclusive to organic matter. This is because the mind or what we think of as the mind is nothing but a precise configuration of atoms. These atoms possess no identity on their own. These atoms could simply be replaced by similar atoms and nothing about the mind or the person would change.

The problem with self

If I made a copy of a person, should there be any argument as to who the original is? Intuitively, no. The copy is, surprise surprise, the copy. But hold on a second. Haven't we just established that there is no self in the sense that it's unique to just one sentient being? Meaning, that who we think we are is what makes us what we are.

The copy, for as long as he or she is concerned, is the original because the atomic configuration is set up in precisely the same way as that of the original's. This is where the ethical barriers collapse. If the copy commits a murder and then proceeds to terminate its own existence, can the original be held responsible for the crime since the two were fundamentally the same?

Or is this wrong since it's not exactly the same person? In either case, our comfortable concept of identity is challenged.

But instead of looking at identity or self as a cloud that occupies volume of any container it's contained in, can identity be a function of time? Identity persists with psychological/causal continuity. This allows a person A who's gone through some experience to emerge as person B but with the same property of self. Person A and person B will have two different outlooks, desires, intentions, etc but will remain as the same person regardless, thus keeping identity and self in tact. This means that identity is a causal continuity. Cause and effect don't cease with time.

But this still does not answer the problem of creating copies.

Is it right to create two person A's and call them the same? If, say, a table identified itself as being you, would it be right of you to deny the table of its identity? Identity therefore has no physical relation. There is no such thing as consciousness in the physical realm as identity is a property that can be replicated.

Therefore the ontological answer to personal identity can be summed up as cause and effect. Personal identity relies on causal continuity rather than physical.