On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 3:22 PM, russell standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au>wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:21:34AM -0600, Jason Resch wrote:
> > If you don't believe they are you, that would imply when you put a pot of
> > coffee on the stove, you do so out of altruism.  Since it only benefits
> > those future observers who have memory of being you but are not.  It's
> not a
> > useful philosophy for building anything on top of such as decision making
> as
> > according to that theory, observers cannot make changes affecting what
> they
> > will experience (since they only are that one moment).  Perhaps things
> > really are that way, but evolution has created a useful illusion of
> > continuity which leads to the overall betterment of OM's on average.
>  Rather
> > than sit around never making coffee because it will be someone else who
> > experiences it, you decide to make it knowing someone else will be better
> > off for it.  As you said, there would be no observational distinction
> > between whether you are one OM, one track of OMs, or all OMs, but they
> lead
> > to different philosophies, the first being perhaps something like
> nihilism,
> > nothing you do matters to your.  The second leads to egocentrism and
> > selfishness.  The last leads to a golden rule, sacrifice for others type
> of
> > ethic.  I think the middle one is the most complex, because it has the
> > hardest definition as to what OMs to group together.  Of the first and
> last,
> > the last is perhaps simpler too, since it could be thought to attach one
> > observer to all OMs rather than an observer for each OM.
> >
> >
> > Jason
> The last viewpoint leads to a kind of fatalism - all these other OMs
> exist/happen anyway, nothing I can do will change that.

If a person or society evolves to become more altruistic it would affect the
distribution and measure of future OMs, hopefully to the positive, where
there would be fewer suffering OMs.  This does enter into the whole
pre-destination/free-will question, but so long as the measure of OMs is of
importance I don't think the last viewpoint leads to fatalism.

> To get the "golden rule" evolving, you need a complex system of
> rewards and punishments, and perhaps a fair amount of shared DNA (see
> the usual evolutionary explanations for altruism). But it still
> evolves under the second option above.
I have some familiarity with theories concerning how altrusim evolved, but
the type of altruism evolution has left us with is far from optimal if the
goal is to optimize the overall quality of OMs. Evolved altruism teaches us
to favor ourselves, our family, and our tribe in that order and above
strangers or less familiar people, but does this lead to optimal behavior?
 In terms of gene propagation, perhaps, not the overall quality of OMs.  For
example, most people would agree donating an organ to save a life is a good
thing, and many do to save a family member.  Far fewer would consider
donating an organ to a complete stranger, but isn't net benefit and cost the
same, regardless of who receives it?  Objectively yes, but not for the genes
of the donor.  Evolution can only take us so far, and it also leads to
occasional "defectors" a'la the prisoner dilemma, where a sociopath benefits
from taking advantage of other's good will.

This last viewpoint, if fully embraced, provides a framework where even a
sociopath could decide it in his or her interest to act altruistically.  Not
entirely selflessly, but with an equal balance between one's self and any
other conscious entities.  If someone would benefit more from having
something you possessed, this view would suggest you should offer it to
them.  It naturally yields utilitarianism, the golden rule, giving away a
spare coat if you have two, etc.

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