Nozick Experienced Machine Argument against Hedonism

NozickExperienced Machine Argument against Hedonism

NozickExperienced Machine Argument against Hedonism

RobertNozick’s famous argument about the experience machine is consideredas one of the most successful philosophical arguments that have everbeen given, contemporarily, in that field. In his argument, Nozickasks us to imagine a machine that can be plugged into the humansystem in order to induce only the desirable or pleasurableexperiences to the user. Insofar as Nozick’s argument is concerned,the induction could stimulate a person’s brain to the extent thathe/she could not be able to distinguish the pleasures and experiencesthat he/she would feel without the machine. In refuting the use ofthese experience machines, Nozick’s arguments go against thehedonism utilitarianism. According to this doctrine, the greatesthappiness of the majority should be the guiding basic principle(Feldman, 2004). It is a fact that Nozick’s views against themachine could not be generally ignored, more so if it involves adeeper analysis of the utilitarian principles. Nonetheless, it couldalso be argued that it overlooked certain critical considerations.Herein, l intends to raise an objection to his crucial assumptionsand certain cornerstones of his claim that it is an only pleasurethat matters. That, therefore, brings in the question, is Nozickright in his assertion that it the pleasure that matters to humanity.

Hedonismis the pursuit of pleasure that could be rightly likened to thesensual self-indulgence. In that sense, the satisfaction of humandesires is the ideal good that one can ever want. And it should formthe foundation of a proper aim of human life. In this context,hedonism could be used interchangeably or synonymously asutilitarianism. The latter hold the same views but with greaterconsideration for the entire humanity.

InNozick’s theoretical experienced experiment, he avails two optionsthat the machine could employ in its use. First one involvesreprogramming of the machine by the user before he/she could plug itin while the other one avails the option of periodical unpluggingbetween the cycles by the user when choosing for his/her desiredpleasures. His arguments are presented strongly along the followinglines if we highly prioritize pleasures that much, then there willbe absolutely no reason to do anything that amputates the latter. Wewould always choose to do activity X to Y because the former is morepleasurable. Also, he pointed out that we have no reason not tounplug into the experience machine if it was capable of producingsuch good satisfactions. Lastly, he attenuated that we wouldexperience more pleasure if we plug into the experience machine thanif we do not. Sensationally, he fronted the following as the reasonsthat should make us not plug into the machine most people would liketo perform certain tasks not just to get an experienced from doingthem. Secondly, some people would like to be solely in control ofthemselves rather than “floating in a tank like an indeterminateblob”. Thirdly, he pointed out that plugging into the experiencemachine would subscribe us to an artificial reality, hence limitingour abilities (Nozick, 1974).

Earlieron, l mentioned that the machines can simulate sensory inputsindistinguishable from the one experienced in the real lifesituations within which one would virtually experience any desirethat he so wishes. In my opinion, it can be gauged that Nozick’sview that the application of this machine would be unappealingbecause of the reasons mentioned above, and then the utilitarianprinciple could be perceived to be erroneous. This is because we havethe capabilities of creating an environment of utmost pleasures.Nozick also exercised an assumption that there are certain things inthe human psyche that could be termed absolute. His theoreticalexperience machine could increase our pleasures or to say the least,retain it to absolute levels. Human analysis of virtually anysituation or condition is based on relativity. For instance, heavy isonly heavier than light, bright is brighter than dark, cute is onlycuter than ugly among other things. It is therefore only sensible fora person to desire progressive pleasures. One would desire happinessor any kind of a feeling about his past or previous experiences. Theimmediate past occurrences only create this standard. Another problemon Nozick’s argument is that it bases its conclusions on human’sintuitions. He proposes an experience machine, inquiries about ourviews and draws his conclusions. It would be of not much significanceeven if we overwhelmingly embrace the experienced machine idea.

Itis faulty to assume that human beings know what is ideal for them.Even determining the accuracy of our predictions in acknowledging thesubjectivity of our desires would be unreliable. If it were reliable,then human beings would easily create actions that make them happy(Macionis, 2015). Then the world be a different place as we wouldmake decisions which would always reflect our collective wills anddesires. This is not the case.

Inconclusion, it is remains imperative to note that humanity, ingeneral, cherishes pleasure and those they long for an ideal lifethat would guarantee them endless pleasure. The assertion by RobertNozick that we would experience more pleasure if we hook ourselves tothe experience machine is not only inaccurate but also based onglaringly influential assumptions. It overrates the universality ofpleasure and relativity as well.


Feldman,F. (2004). Pleasure and the good life: Concerning the nature,varieties and plausibility of hedonism. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Macionis,J. (2015). Sociology. Pearson Education Limited

Nozick,R. (1974). Anarchy, state, and utopia. New York: Basic Books