Mood Enhancement and the Authenticity of Experience: Ethical Considerations
- 311 Downloads
Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuro-psychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, pre-programming your life’s desires? […] Of course, while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there; you’ll think it’s all actually happening…Would you plug in? What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?
This section of Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia (1974, p. 42) introduces the Experience Machine, a famous thought experiment that Nozick used in an attempt to refute mental state theories of well-being. Nozick conceived the Experience Machine to put forward an argument along the following lines: in spite of the fact that we will experience more pleasure if we plug into the Experience Machine than if we do not, we have good reasons not to plug in. This suggests that experiencing as much pleasure as we can is not all that matters to us. According to Nozick, there are three reasons why we should not plug into the Experience Machine.
KeywordsEmotional Response Experience Machine Authentic Individual Human Enhancement Authentic Experience
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bibring, E. (1953): The mechanisms of depression. In: Greenacre, P. (ed.) Affective Disorders. New York: International Universities Press, pp. 13–48.Google Scholar
- Bostrom, N. and Savulescu, J. (eds.) (2009): Human Enhancement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Brickman, P. (1987): Commitment, Conflict and Caring. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Conrad, P. (2007): The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Elliott, C. (1999): A Philosophical Disease: Bioethics, Culture and Identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Harris, J. (1985): The Value of Life: An Introduction to Medical Ethics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Harris, J. (1992): Wonderwoman and Superman: Ethics of Human Biotechnology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kramer, P. (1993): Listening to Prozac. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
- Nesse, R. M. and Williams, G. C. (1995): Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine. New York: Times Books.Google Scholar
- Nozick, R. (1974): Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Shaw, I. and Wordward, L. (2004): The medicalisation of unhappiness? The management of mental distress in primary care. In: Kauppinen, K. and Shaw, I. (eds.) Constructions of Health and Illness: European Perspectives. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Taylor, S. H. (1989): Positive Illusions: Creative Self-Deception and the Healthy Mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Whitaker, R. (2010): Anatomy of an Epidemic. New York: Broadway Paperbacks.Google Scholar