Responsibility for discontinuous entities

The Looping Machine

Torrance is constructed in the looping machine. Every 3 microseconds he is completely destroyed and replaced with an exact duplicate. The replacement process takes just .0005 picoseconds. The matter is teleported in, old matter teleported out. This is so efficient that no one around him could possibly notice it. Torrance seems to live like anyone else, as the changes in his thoughts and physical position and constitution that occur during the three microseconds are passed on to the next entity. So as far as Torrance knows, he’s like anyone else, slowly gaining and losing mass through ingestion and excretion.

Torrance commits a crime. During the trial, it comes out that Torrance is remade every 3 ms. His defense attorney argues that he cannot ever be guilty of any crime, because the criminal will necessarily be dead by the time any trial commences.

Further, it is impossible for the person who commits the crime to be the person who intends the crime, or, surely, the person who premeditatively intends the crime.

Could an entity like Torrance ever commit a crime? Could an entity like John ever be guilty of a crime?

What if, unlike Torrance, you’re a reasonably normal organism. A crime is committed in the past, and you can show that enough time has passed that you share no matter with the entity that committed a crime, even though that entity is organically continuous with you? How would that bear upon guilt? Should it bear upon guilt? How is this essentially different from the Torrance case, or is it just a difference of custom?

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