||[May. 2nd, 2009|06:51 pm]
cunts talking about kant
Earlier in the week I was hanging out with my friends Jake, Alissa, and Amanda and somehow the topic of simulated reality came up, to which I referenced and gave an account of Robert Nozick's famous Experience Machine thought experiment. |
Basically, the argument goes like this: Hedonists argue that pleasure is the highest good and the only thing that possess intrinsic value. Well imagine that, argues Nozick, that we could plug ourselves into a machine that would produce, indefinably until our deaths, a simulated reality of the sort of life that we want the most.
If youre a hedonist then this sort of life is a life of boundless pleasure and sensory happiness. If youre a hedonist you might think that things like honor and and virtue are artifices that either limit our ability to achieve our true ultimate end or are simply confusions about what our true ultimate ends are. On this view, one should have absolutely no qualms about stepping in and programing an artificial life full of boundless sensory gratification. But, Nozick argues that most people would reject this sort of life, because the majority of people think that there is more value to actually doing something, rather that having the simulation of doing something.
I disagree with Nozick about a lot of things, but this is one of those things I find myself in agreement with. Jake, however, was not entirely convinced, and argued that the end result of the Experience Machine and the end result of a life of happiness are the same. Even if we think that a life of struggle and triumph is nobler than a life of pleasure, we can simply program the machine to be suited for a life of struggle and achievement. And we would be none the wiser. And this is entirely true.
The trouble though, with this sort of conclusion, is that it does not map reality and the way we actually think and feel about our actions. The belief that it is better to actually do something rather than have it simulated is more than a hollow phrase, and I feel that people who think otherwise are either not fully realizing the ramifications of Nozick's machine, or are in the strictest sense true sociopaths.
Imagine though, that you truly did have an opportunity to use the Experience Machine, to be hooked up and have a simulated life ready designed to achieve your innermost desires. Now, when you imagine this situation, dont imagine it like a thought experiment where you are detached and this is playing out in some hypothetical situation. No, instead pretend that in the next five minutes RIGHT NOW you will have to choose whether or not to enter the machine. Would you? I wouldnt.
I wouldnt because I truly do find value in actually doing something and having actual friends and actual loved ones. Sure, I can program my beliefs about the good life, along with my very same family members and my very same friends into the machine, and I wouldnt know then. But I know right now. The idea that I will never actually talk to my mom, or my dad, or my brothers, my friends, or anyone, but will instead only dream of them in a way that I wish, fills me with disgust.
What say you? Would you enter into Nozick's Experience Machine?
Crossposted to my own journal.