Thank you, that helps immensely. I think I largely agree with you. But this is the internet; we do not speak of agreements here.
Okay, I lied, because I want to weigh in on the Dawkins essay that both of us have trouble with, though possibly for different reasons. I think Dawkins' stumbling block is that he has come up with a powerful tool for describing what is real and hopes to use it to shed light on what is good. Unfortunately, 'real' is a characteristic of all phenomena -- even incorrect descriptions of reality are themselves real. If you and I have been talking hammers and screwdrivers, Dawkins is trying to pull a symphony out of a telescope.
So. Yes. Agreement, definitely on the particular, and I think on the generality as well. Except: now I'm very curious about the implications of how you phrased some things, because they are tantalizingly different from what I would have said.
An agent however, who places the continuation of its own heartbeat above all else is, presumably, rational.
For all that I think Dawkins is overreaching, I don't think this is quite synonymous with the quote you pulled. I think he's saying that a rational actor will act differently when given different expectations about what happens after death. Maybe that's my own filter kicking in. Okay, it's definitely my own filter and I have no idea what Dawkins really meant, because I've just deleted a couple sentences explaining what it says in my (non-literal, constantly changing) head.
Does it not seem to imply that the narrative the agent is telling itself [...] is real and enduring, rather than a self-created fiction.
Hmm. Mind if I split the compound question? It definitely does imply "real" -- but why would that be inaccurate, even if the narrative is a fictional one? (I just re-read and I think you're using "real" here to mean "factual" and the factuality is the important part to you, whereas I read "real" as "actual" and think that existence is foundational (though boring to talk about).)
Secondly, I'm not quite sure what you're getting at with "enduring", since it's Dawkins' contention that the self is not enduring, that this life is all we've got. If I may take a guess, are you saying that even though Dawkins argues that the self will end, his value system contains an implicit assumption that death is a choice to be optimized and not a guarantee?