The Experience Machine

#1
https://www.kinesophy.com/experience-machine/

EXCERPT: Part of the difficulty in defining moral rules stems from the fact that each individual experiences the world differently. What I perceive as pain may feel like minor discomfort to someone else. If there is common ground from which to build a set of moral rules, it seems we will have to start with something more substantial than perceived experiences.

To illustrate this point, philosopher Robert Nozick imagined a so-called experience machine that would give users whatever experiences they wanted. He argued that most people would find this machine unsatisfying. We don’t just want the perception of experiences; we want to act and live out those experiences. Nozick’s experience machine shows that our physical bodies and actions are essential to the lives we want to live. And we need them in order to understand and practice morality.

Nozick conceives the experience machine in the early pages of his book Anarchy, State and Utopia as he explores different ways to think about morality. How people perceive the world, how they think about it and what they want from it matter when we try to determine what moral rules constrain human behavior. But morality seems to require more than individual preferences and desires. Somehow, morality requires that we translate individual experiences into rules that apply to everyone. Yet as Nozick observes, there are “substantial puzzles when we ask what matters other than how people’s experiences feel ‘from the inside.’”...

MORE: https://www.kinesophy.com/experience-machine/
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#2
The only problem defining morality is that some people have a vested interest in justifying their own immorality.
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#3
I'd like to know how an Experience Machine would handle death. I think I would tell Nozick to grab a hammer and nails to experience the building of such a machine. Once complete he could experience the experience of experiencing the experience and so forth. Another philosopher with too much time on his hands.
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#4
(Jul 8, 2018 12:26 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: I'd like to know how an Experience Machine would handle death. I think I would tell Nozick to grab a hammer and nails to experience the building of such a machine. Once complete he could experience the experience of experiencing the experience and so forth. Another philosopher with too much time on his hands.


Blame me for not providing an excerpt that could make make the so-called "Experience Machine" thought experiment less unremarkable or misunderstood.[*] It's actually just reference to a Matrix-like scenario, brain-in-vat, or "all-senses virtual reality" (including stimulation of internal body feelings). Except that the subject knows that they're participating in such. With Nozick then apparently suggesting that because of the latter knowledge, the person would not be satisfied with the experiences -- no matter how genuine / realistic they seemed.

But one could as much point to the more mundane and classic situation of getting wrapped-up in a novel or movie. And similarly the lack of its events contributing to the reader's / viewer's own real life also rendering those vicarious "experiences" impotent. Except that even the latter actually do have an effect on some people who are overly sensitive / receptive to having their views (if any) altered by such simulative accounts.

For instance: Those residing in an insulated, purely metropolitan existence might be incrementally influenced by sympathetic theatrics slash "socially relevant" tear-jerking "Lassie" / pet whale dramas or Babe fun -- which over time may either indirectly or directly instill animal rights activism in them. Whereas individuals "physically" or occupation-wise involved in hunting, raising livestock, etc will usually be less affected (or at least in extreme ways). Ayn Rand even used novels to depict her philosophy and convert readers to its views (which is to say, the potential susceptibility to even low-tech methods of distributing vicarious "experiences" is a characteristic of populations across the classification spectrum).

- - - footnote - - -

[*] But as Nozick points out, the experience machine puzzle also tells us something about morality. It’s not enough to respect an agent’s experiences. If it were, we wouldn’t get upset at the premise of The Matrix because there would be nothing wrong with hooking somebody up to an experience machine and using his body’s heat and electrical activity for energy.

Thus, physical bodies and physical actions matter to questions of morality. It’s not enough that others don’t infringe on our felt experiences. We don’t want them to infringe on our bodies or actions, even if we’re not aware of the effects of that infringement. And it’s not enough that we experience the virtuous feeling of being brave, intelligent or strong. We actually want to perform the virtuous actions that constitute being brave, intelligent and strong. To be fully moral human beings, we need our bodies and we need to perform physical actions. For that reason, it makes sense for us to take care of our bodies and prepare them to act.

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#5
I've often wondered how Captain Pike fared after being adopted permanently by the scrotum-headed telepaths of Talos 4. An endless supply of naked green alien women while his keepers watched? I think over time you'd adjust to it feeling as real as reality. Reality may after all just be a feeling, a state of mind more than a real place.
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