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Robert Nozick's Experiment, The Experience Machine and the Inclusion of Meta-Pleasure

Decent Essays
The Experience Machine and the Inclusion of Meta-Pleasure
Robert Nozick is a philosopher who seeks to disprove the utilitarian notion of hedonism through a thought experiment that he has entitles “The Experience Machine” (Nozick 646). I will first explain the concept of utilitarianism and hedonism, then the experience machine before I give a reply about the inclusion of a third category of pleasure which I have called “meta-pleasure”. Finally, I will show how technology may be disproving the entire experience machine thought experiment altogether.
Utilitarianism is a moral theory that seeks to define right and wrong actions based solely on the consequences they produce. By utilitarian standards, an act is determined to be right if and
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He states that we desire, more so than pleasure, to live a life “in contact with reality” (Nozick 646). However, I am not convinced that this example on its own proves hedonism false. Perhaps the idea very idea of connecting to a machine and losing contact to reality is in itself painful to us, as it presents us with an existential crisis, and so we choose not to connect to avoid the painful thoughts associated with having one’s mind controlled by a machine. Perhaps, there is a third category of pleasures that could be called “meta-pleasures” that are the pleasures that come from knowing that we are in touch with reality and that what we are doing is having a real effect. Much like personal safety, meta-pleasure is only tangible when it is threatened. We are not able to be aware of or “feel” our safety, we become aware of it only when it is threatened by something else, as is the case with meta-pleasure. We only become aware of meta-pleasure when something like an experience machine threatens our notion of the reality we are experiencing and suggests that our minds could be completely controlled by a machine. If meta-pleasure is something that is real, then the experience machine thought experiment would only further prove hedonism because it shows that we will desire things which are pleasurable and avoid those that are painful. On the other hand,
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