Mental Statism and the Experience Machine
Bard Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 3, pp. 10-17, Winter 1994/1995
9 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2009 Last revised: 29 Jul 2009
Date Written: Winter 1994
According to Robert Nozick's famous "experience machine" argument, we would not choose to spend our lives with our brains connected to a machine that could deliver any set of experiences we desire. Because most of us would decline to live any variant of life in "The Matrix," so to speak, the thought experiment purportedly demonstrates that we value aspects of life other than just subjective experiences.
I argue that while most would not connect to the experience machine, many would not disconnect from it either if they were already connected. Unless we have a reason to privilege the views of those currently disconnected, Nozick fails to prove his broader point about the nature of value.
This article was published when I was an undergraduate. I am posting it now to SSRN because the topic has gained renewed interest among experimental philosophers and neuroethicists.
Keywords: Hedonism, Robert Nozick, Experience Machine, Utilitarianism, Axiology, Matrix
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation