suppose you can spend a certain amount of money (or effort, resources, etc) to prevent the spawning of a million rooms (in, let's say, simulations), with an exact copy of one random person in each. they will wake up in the rooms, spend a week not able to get out (basic necessities covered), then get tortured for a week, and then the simulations are shut down.
i want to split this hypothetical into four cases:
I): the million rooms and persons are exactly identical simulations.
M): the million rooms are the exact same, except that each room has, somewhere on one wall, a microscopically different patch of paint. the persons likely won't be able to directly observe the difference, but it will probably eventually cause the million brains to diverge from each other.
Q): the million rooms will have different (random) pieces of music playing, as well as random collections of paintings on the walls, random collections of books, movies, video games, etc. to pass the time.
V): same as the quite different case, but on top of that the rooms actually contain a random person picked from random places all over the world instead of copies of the same person.
the point is that you should want to reduce suffering by preventing the scenario, but how much you care should be a function of whether/much you count the million different persons's suffering as multiple experiences.
it seems clear to me that one's caring for each case should increase in the order in which the cases are listed (that is, identical being the least cared about, and very different beig the most cared about); the question is more about the difference between consecutive cases. let's call those:
IM= difference in caring between the identical case and the mildly different case
MQ= difference in caring between the mildly different case and the quite different case
QV= difference in caring between the quite different case and the very different case
currently, my theory of ethics deduplicates identical copies of moral patients (for reasons such as not caring about implementation details), meaning that i see the mildly different case as fundamentally different from the identical case.
IM > MQ ≈ QV, and even
IM > (MQ + QV).
however, this strikes me as particularly unintutive; i feel like the mildly different case should get an amount of caring much closer to the identical case than the quite different case; i feel like i want to get
QV > MQ > IM, or at least
QV > IM < MQ; either way, definitely
IM < (MQ + QV).
here are the ways i can see out of this:
i think i'll tentatively stick to 1 because 2 feels weird, but i'll consider it more; as well as making room for the possibility that 3 might be right. finally, i'm not sure how to go about investigating 4; but compared to the other three it is at least materially investigatable — surely, either such a sub-patient can be isolated, or it can't.