Samson 1 Aaron Samson Philosophy 24 19 January 2007 In Robert Nozick’s essay he uses a fictional machine that allows a person

to experience whatever he or she wants to argue against the premise of psychological hedonism. I will first state the three premises of Nozick's argument. I will then examine the plausibility of his premises and conclusion. Finally, I will show that this argument is an effective one against Psychological Hedonism. I argue that Nozick's argument is ideologically sound because even though his premises are not entirely proven in his conclusion, their mere plausibility gives strength to his final thought. Nozick’s three premises in “The Experience Machine” argue that: 1. humans prefer to do certain things rather than only experience them, 2. people want to be and asses who they are instead what they are told they are, and 3. people would rather limit themselves to their own experiences instead of those created by others. Nozick also implies that free will and truth are more important to people than even the best of experiences and believes that people would not plug into the experience machine because they want free reign over their lives and experiences. Nozick goes on to describe a machine that can transform a person into whomever he or she would like to be at the touch of a button. He states that a person would not plug into this machine both because people want to become who they are through experience and because there will always be obstacles to overcome. Though Nozick uses a hypothetical situation to argue a theory, he does it using premises that are both plausible and reasonable. Nozick’s premises that people want to

Samson 2 live and experience things for themselves rather than be lied to by a machine or the imagination of another are sensible. Nozick makes an assumption that people would react to this “experience machine” by not allowing themselves to be plugged into it; however he takes into account the fact that, by nature, people do not like to be lied to. This is often seen through the often asked question “is it ok to lie to someone to spare their feelings?” If experience is the only thing that affects human welfare, the question would pose no issue and the white lie would be inevitable. Nozick’s other two premises deal with experiencing life for oneself instead of having it fed to your imagination. People often experience this reaction when dealing with mind-altering drugs. Many people feel that these drugs are not reality and should therefore not be taken. This argument can be applied to the experience machine as well. Nozick does not discount the affects of pleasure and pain on a person’s welfare. He simply disproves that these are the only things that affect a person’s welfare by adding a third (albeit unknown) factor. The idea that humans want to live and do things rather than only experience them creates the notion that there is an important aspect to living one’s life aside from pleasure and pain that affects a person’s welfare. The plausibility of Nozick’s premises gives strength to his conclusion that there is another source of welfare in peoples’ lives. Nozick’s argument is therefore sound and effectively disproves Psychological Hedonism at the welfare level.

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