Nozick: Pleasure Is Our Sole Aim In Life

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RECONSTRUCTION
Robert Nozick argues that most people would chose not to plug into an experience machine, since it would essentially be a form of suicide, and since most people more than likely care about more than just experiences. The motivation behind this thought experiment is hedonism’s claim that pleasure is our sole aim in life. Nozick argues that if hedonism were true, then everyone would plug in, but since most people would not plug in, hedonism must be false. So, the purpose of this thought experiment is to find what matters more than experience – or pleasure. To do this, he begins by asking us to “suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired [for two years at a time].” You can manufacture whatever experience you like, or you can choose from a wide selection of generic experiences most people desire. The caveat is that the machine is a
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Now, people would have no reason not to plug in, and, yet, they still choose not to, which implies that people care about something else more than experiences and how they become. So, he then asks to imagine a result machine that would produce “in the world any result you would produce” (119). These machines would theoretically take care of all a person’s desires found in the criterion and beyond, but people would still not choose to plug in. Why? Nozick argues that this is because our desire is to live ourselves instead of letting machines do it for us and that living is what matters to us more than just experiences – or the pleasure that we would receive from those experiences – which is why he claims that plugging in would be the equivalent of committing suicide. Now, we should understand that it is not simply pleasure that we aim for, but, rather, life in general, and that we would not plug in to the machines because we do not want them living for

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