Nozick: The Experience Machine

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In his 1974 book ‘Anarchy, State, and Utopia’, Nozick proposed a famous thought experiment known as the ‘Experience Machine’. This hypothetical machine aims to argue against moral hedonism by proposing that people would not want to experience the machine and, therefore, there are more intrinsically important elements to one 's existence than pleasure. This essay aims to firstly outline Nozick’s argument, then illustrate how it can be seen as a counter-argument to hedonism and finally provide a critique of the conditions of the argument. Nozick introduces his readers to the ‘Experience Machine’ by describing the machine as one which could “stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend,…show more content…
Essentially, Nozick eludes to the problem with too much pleasure. People may be inclined to say: “What is the point if I get everything I want? Pleasure without knowing pain is nothing. It is neutral. What is happiness without sadness?”. The Experience Machine, and additionally the reasons to not plug in, suggest that we need more from life than pleasure in order to be satisfied. Pain and pleasure for many are two sides of the same coin and you cannot define much less experience one without the other. An experience machine that has only the "inside" or only the "outside" view is not a human experience. However, this judgement seems to be more of the commonly biased assumption than something that can be proven. Do we have the same intuition in the reverse scenario? Would we say that someone who has known nothing but abuse since birth wouldn 't be worth rescuing since, because of their lack of positive experiences, didn 't experience any negative experiences either? Is there any reason to believe that this alleged relationship between positive and negative experiences isn 't…show more content…
Conclusively, the ‘Experience Machine’ has illustrated an intriguing counter-argument to the hedonistic claims. By illustrating the concerns and problems of the machine Nozick in turn reveals flaws in the belief that the maximisation of pleasure and minimisation of pain is all that is required for one 's wellbeing. However, it is (arguably) equally as easy to find flaws in some of Nozick’s claims too. In this way, the ‘Experience Machine’ can be considered effective in the sense that it questions the hedonist and the concept of pleasure as holding the most intrinsic value yet still not fully convincing enough to fully dismiss the
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