Third Nacelle wrote:
So with Will & Thomas Riker, one is the "real" Will, and one is a copy? Who determines which one is real?
If we're going to say that you can maintain continuity of identity while transporting, then they are both real. If not, every person who has ever used the transporter is a copy.
The real Riker was lost in a transporter accident before he became commander. The one we have been seeing since the start of TNG has been a copy.
No. The transporter does not create copies! It's a quantum-state/position and energy transfer(!!). The Enterprise Technical Manual by Rick Sternbach states this, and it even draws a difference between a Molucalar Method (used for replicators) and the Quantum Method (used for transporters). With the Molucar Method you can save the pattern and use it, for instance, to create food but it wouldn't work on recreating an exact copy of anything on the quantum level. The Quantum Method cannot be stored, but it allows for the transportation of an actual person, that does not get destroyed, but transfred.
btw. As I mentioned in another thread: The condition for Thomas Riker to be created were very unique. And the Quantum Method implies that they are both real and neither of them is a copy.