Robert Nozick and Experience Machine Essays

Submitted By SamuelKing1
Words: 1181
Pages: 5

John Shapanus
Professor Dove
November 1, 2012
The “Fake” Experience Machine What matters besides how people’s experiences feel “from the inside”? This question was posed by Robert Nozick in response to the idea that there could be an Experience Machine that would provide any experience that a person desired. Once plugged into this Experience Machine there is no turning back to true reality, but even more important is that you would be unable to discern if you were in a type of never ending vivid dream. This scenario has led to countless philosophical debates over what the correct choice would be if you were given this opportunity. Nozick claimed that one should not choose to go into the Experience Machine. I agree with Nozick and believe, despite arguments to the contrary, that the importance of family, becoming a distinct type of individual, and the availability of better coping mechanisms all combine to make remaining in reality rather than entering an Experience Machine the better decision, if one was given the choice. I believe that the most important part of life is the bonds you make with your family and closest friends. We endure the pain and suffering of life with these people and also enjoy the best of times with them. By entering into the Experience Machine you are making a selfish move that deprives the people in your life of the joys of spending time with you. The people who love you will feel abandoned and neglected because you wanted to improve only your experiences. Supporters of going into the experience machine will propose that once you are plugged in you will not be able to determine that the family and friends you are interacting with are really just projections. Others will state that it is possible that you have no living family left in the real world or you have never had friends to know enjoyment in life. With this argument, the Experience Machine provides a place where you can have friends and family if you choose to. Even if either of these conditions were true, you are still giving yourself fake satisfaction by filling the need for family and friends in your life with projections who cannot truly form a bond with you. “The value of some types of happiness seems to be largely or even entirely dependent on certain external circumstances that are connected (or are thought by the subject to be connected) to that happiness” (Jollimore 2004). For most of us happiness is connected to being with our loved ones, in the Experience Machine there is no connection. My second argument for not entering the Experience Machine is that you are depriving yourself of the experiences life offers by working for it in the real world. In reality you not only can experience things but you can know how it feels to experience them. “Nozicks’s thought experiment seems to show fairly clearly that we care about things besides positive experiential states, and for many philosophers, that clinches the case” (Hewitt 2010, 1). Once in the machine you are simply having situations produced before your eyes and are taking them in. The best part of life is experiencing something great and knowing what led up to and made possible for this to be happening to you. Proponents of entering the thought machine have noted that many people have horrible life situations with very few opportunities for improvement. For example if you are paralyzed then there is no possibility of you being able to physically run in a marathon. By entering into the Experience Machine this person could leave the boundaries of their physical disablement to experience running in a race. Although this sounds very appealing to many people who find themselves in a similar situation they would be cheating themselves out of truly living. “Richard Brandt suggests that happiness is the natural source of all our desires and aversions. When we associate pleasure or happiness with a certain experience or state of affairs, that experience or state of