- Ethics: The Problem of Evil
- Ethics: Problem of Evil, Part 1
- Ethics: Problem of Evil, Part 2
- Ethics: Problem of Evil, Part 3
- Ethics: God and Morality, Part 1
- Ethics: God and Morality, Part 2
- Ethics: Moral Status
- Ethics: Killing Animals for Food
- Ethics: Hedonism and The Experience Machine
- Ethics: Consequentialism
- Ethics: Utilitarianism, Part 1
- Ethics: Utilitarianism, Part 2
- Ethics: Utilitarianism, Part 3
- Ethics: The Problem of Moral Luck
- Ethics: The Nonidentity Problem
- Ethics: The Nonidentity Problem, Part 2
- Ethics: Symmetry Argument Against the Badness of Death
- Ethics: Promising Against the Evidence #1
- Ethics: Promising Against the Evidence #2
- Ethics: Know Thyself #1 (The Examined Life)
- Ethics: Consent #1 (What is Consent?)
- Ethics: Consent #2 (Consent and Rights)
Speaker: Dr. Richard Rowland, Departmental Lecturer, Somerville College, University of Oxford
Want to join the conversation?
- I am not a proponent of hedonism, but I find the argument here against it to be weak.
At3:24Professor Rowland says, "But this seems wrong to us." That's not proof; that's his opinion. I won't ever be a world class actor or athlete; but the experience of feeling as though I am could be a positive one. I have a wife and a child and am glad that I do. But wouldn't someone who couldn't have a child be happier with the feelings that came with having one, than never knowing the feeling. In a somewhat scary future world, a person could experience what it would be like to have a family as a trial period prior to decide to engage in the experience for real.
He ends by opting against hedonism but only because he says so. I'd like to hear a stronger argument from the professor. What does he have to say?(38 votes)
- I agree completely. At the end of the video, statement 2 contradicts statement 1 without giving a shred of evidence, explanation, or rational argument and then draws the conclusion that statement 2 is correct. It seems to me to be similar as saying: 1) Belief "X" states that it is better for us to do "A" than to do "B". 2) But it IS better for us to do "B". Therefore, Belief "X" is false.(18 votes)
- I think that useing the "machine" would be like cheating. Not having made the required sacrifices to obtain the experiance. Therefore much less satisfying. Not sure if this matters to the argument.(7 votes)
- That's exactly the point of the thought experiment. Pleasure is not the everything. Reality is also important. Some would prefer real suffering to illusory pleasure. Subsequently, the philosophy of hedonism takes a blow.(6 votes)
- Am I the only one here who wouldn't hesitate to hook into the machine?(6 votes)
- Willingly entering into a fictional reality in which you intend to lose track of the illusion would be immoral and dishonest. All good done for the sake of others would be meaningless as there are no conscious others benefiting. All the self sacrifice made to bring a child into the world and raise them would be empty. The machine is an extreme example of wish thinking which any honest intelligent person should want to avoid like a plague.
However, If there were a person who truly only cared about themselves and who only saw others as means to their ends, I think the machine would be a great place for them. Psychopaths, corrupt politicians & unscrupulous CEOs come to mind.
Can anyone find reason to object to my first assertion?(0 votes)
- While it is true that people would wish to avoid the experience machine, what if you turned it around and instead were told that you are already in the experience machine, and your entire life has actually been an illusion, and no conscious person has ever benefited from your kindnesses. But it still is nice here. Would you wish to leave it?
If you are like most people, then you would decline to leave, not because you only care about yourself, but because you would like to keep things the same as they already are. That's really the same reason that people avoid the machine in the first place.(9 votes)
- The comments made by @donsspa and @Wudaifu sum up the flaw of the argument as it was presented in this video.
I am relatively new to Khan but I must say that this is the first time I had to stop, shake my head and think to my self "what just happened there"
In my opinion this video should be removed and a new and improved video put up in its place.
The logical fallacy here is to great to ignore. To quote Wudaifu "Belief "X" states that it is better for us to do "A" than to do "B". 2) But it IS better for us to do "B". Therefore, Belief "X" is false." That is just plain weak at best.
At no point does the speaker go into whether or not we will ever leave the experience machine or anything of the sort. Think about it, if you could stay in the machine, indefinitely, then what difference would it make? It would be exactly like the film The Matrix.
Point here being that perhaps if the speaker goes into more detail and explains things a bit better then maybe this example could be used and made to make sense but as it stands, this is not a quality argument.
- As much as I love Khan Academy, I must agree with other comments stating that the argument has flaws. If nothing else, arguments for why it is better to actually do somethings, rather than experience it, must be put forward. If the experience machine is indistinguishable, as such includes necessary suffering in order to triumph, then reality vs subjective experience are one and the same.(3 votes)
- Epicurus was also a hedonist, but het practiced an whole other form of hedonism. You couldn't compare the hedonisme mentioned in this episode with his livestyle, right?(3 votes)
- Was it just me, or did anyone else notice while talking about the experience machine @1:28draws the code from the movie "The Matrix", and then the "Blue Pill"? Am I projecting, or was that intentional?(1 vote)
- You are exactly right. The artist who animated the video wanted to demonstrate how philosophical concepts have permeated different parts of pop culture (even if the argument doesn't happen explicitly). The Matrix is a pretty great example of the experience machine in action. What is particularly nice about the matrix is that you get both sides of it (that is, one of the characters chooses to stay in the experience machine and endorse hedonism).(4 votes)
- One of the ways that you can easily choose the "real" experience over the experience machine is thinking about WHY you do the things you do. For example, one of the reasons most people (or at least me) do the things we do is because we want our actions to be a reality for those who are conscious of their own realities...a.k.a - the real people.(1 vote)