Experience machine  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The experience machine or pleasure machine is a thought experiment put forward by philosopher Robert Nozick in his 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia. It is one of the best known attempts to refute ethical hedonism, and does so by imagining a choice between everyday reality and an apparently preferable simulated reality.

If the primary thesis of hedonism is that "pleasure is the good", then any component of life that is not pleasurable does nothing directly to increase one's well-being. This is a view held by many value theorists, but most famously by some classical utilitarians. Nozick attacks the thesis by means of a thought experiment. If he can show that there is something other than pleasure that has value and thereby increases our well-being, then hedonism is defeated.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Experience machine" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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