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Lecture 5

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Julia Nefsky

Lecture 5 – Jan. 23 Nozick’s Thought-Experiment “Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time, you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain.” (p.644) Further details • You wouldn’t know that you were plugged in. Everything would seem completely real to you. • There would be a way of ensuring that you would be having the experiences that you wanted to have. • You don’t need to worry about the welfare of others • You don’t need to worry about things like, “Who is servicing the machine?” Nozick believes that most people would choose to not live in the tank Utilitarianism: Two Main Parts 1. Consequentialism: an act is right if and only if it produces the best consequences out of all the acts available to the agent 2. Hedonism: how good consequences are depends entirely on how much pleasure and they involve The Thought-Experiment is challenging the hedonism portion of utilitarianism Recall: the ‘Doctrine Worthy of Swine’ objection • The human good life isn’t just a matter of getting as much pleasure as possible and avoiding pain • We care greatly about many other things: knowledge, friendship, etc. o Not just bodily pleasures Mill’s response: 1. Lower pleasures 2. Higher pleasures Hedonism can recognize that things like knowledge, friendship, achievements, do make our lives better Nozick – But for Hedonism to Be True It needs to be that what is good about knowledge, friendship, success, love etc. is just the pleasure, or relief from pain, that they give us The Experience Machine challenges this: • Pleasure and freedom from pain cannot be the only things that are intrinsically valuable • If they were, people would all plug in • Something else matters us, “other than how our lives feel from the inside.” (p.644) The Argument: 1. If Hedonism were tr
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