PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Experience Machine, Consequentialism

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Published on 12 Apr 2013
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Unit 1: Moral Theories
Nozick’s Thought-Experiment: The Experience Machine
-while plugged in you wouldn’t know where you are or you are plugged in, you think its all real
and there would be a way of ensuring that you’d be having the experiences you want
-you don’t need to worry about the welfare of other people, everyone can plug into their own
machines and you don’t have to worry about questions such as who will service the machines, etc.
-Nozick says the resounding answer would be no, no one wants to spend their life floating in the
Two Parts of Utilitarianism
-consequentialism says to maximize good consequences
-according to Hedonism, the only good thing is itself is pleasure and the absence of pain
-intrinsically valuable if valuable in itself, good in itself, desirable for its own sake
-instrumentally valuable is valuable if it is a means to bringing about something else that is
-hedonism says that the only things that are intrinsically valuable are pleasure in the absence of
pain, life depends entirely how much pleasure and pain you experience over your life
Mill and Hedonism
-for hedonism to be true, what is good about knowledge, friendships, achievement, etc., is just the
pleasure, or relief from pain than they give us
-anything that is valuable to us, is valuable for the pleasure that is involves as a means to pleasure
or avoiding pain
Objection to Hedonism
-but the Experience Machine is an objection to this view
-the Experience Machine (most people don’t want to plug in) seems to tell us that something else
seems to matter to us other than pleasure and pain, “other than how things seem from the inside”
-the experience machine can give you the best possible balance of pleasure over pain and if
pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things intrinsically valuable then everyone would
readily plug in
-something else must matter to us beside our experiences, besides how much pleasure and pain
we feel
-Nozick says we want to do certain things, not just have the experience of doing them; we want to
be a certain way, to be a certain sort of person; we actually want to make a difference in the world
-Nozick says what is most disturbing about them is that they are living our lives for usrejection
of the transformation and results machine
-something that seems to be valuable in itself is that we are living our lives ourselves in contact
with reality, other than pleasure and pain
Potential Problems with the Argument
-perhaps there are other reasons why people won’t plug in
What Nozick Needs
-in order to really challenge hedonism, Nozick needs is a comparison between a life lived in reality
and a life lived floating in a tank attached to an experience machine that is identical in terms of the
pleasures and pains experienced