Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
2010/1/15 Brent Meeker <>:

There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you [Jason 
mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
individual travelling in the forward direction through time. It's
possible to go through life not questioning this until we consider
duplication thought experiments, which evolution had not taken into
account. But having this insight does not make the illusion any less
real, nor do I have any desire to be free of it, since that would go
against my evolutionary programming. I do try to be altruistic, but
being selfish (caring for the needs of my future selves) comes more
So you think that the continuous physical processes of evolution produced
the illusion of continuity which you now see is really discrete OMs?

We could just consider whether we are the same person from day to day
with an intervening period of unconsciousness (Nagel's day-person),
avoiding the separate question of whether OM's are discrete or
continuous. There is no reason why a race of such people with such
beliefs could not evolve if there were some adaptive advantage to it,
such as promotion of altruism and the good of the group. A
philosophically inclined day-person might then reason thus:

I feel that I will die overnight and a different person will wake up
in my bed in the morning. That person will look similar to me and will
share most of my memories, but it won't be me, just as I am not any of
the people who came before me and whose memories I now have. However,
this belief is just a contingent fact of evolution. I feel that I am
the same person as I was an hour ago, but the relationship that
earlier self has to me is not really different to the relationship I
have to the person who will wake in my bed tomorrow. I would not be
violating any logical or empirical fact if I said either that: (a) I
remain the same person from day to day and the feeling that I don't
survive sleep is an illusion; or (b) I do not remain the same person
from moment to moment but I have the illusion that I do. If we
consider duplication thought experiments (a) becomes problematic,
since there might be two or more versions of me at the one time each
with an equal claim to being me. Therefore, I think (b) is the best
way to think about it objectively. Nevertheless, even even though I
now see that the way I've always thought about myself is an illusion,
it's not an illusion I can shake off, nor one I would want to shake
off. Such is the strength of my evolutionary programming.

Or why not suppose you are your body (including your genes). Then evolution would be able to have had the imputed effect on "you" that you suppose it does.

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