Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (4):461-482 (2013)

Dan Weijers
University of Waikato
Prudential hedonism has been beset by many objections, the strength and number of which have led most modern philosophers to believe that it is implausible. One objection in particular, however, is nearly always cited when a philosopher wants to argue that prudential hedonism is implausible—the experience machine objection to hedonism. This paper examines this objection in detail. First, the deductive and abductive versions of the experience machine objection to hedonism are explained. Following this, the contemporary responses to each version of the argument are assessed and the deductive version is argued to be relatively ineffective compared to the abductive version. Then, a taxonomy of the contemporary critical responses to the abductive version is created. Consideration of these responses shows that the abductive version of the objection is fairly powerful, but also that one type of response seems promising against it. This response argues that experience machine thought experiments seem to elicit judgments that are either too biased to be used as evidence for the objection or not obviously in favour of reality. It is argued that only this type of refutation seems likely to convince proponents of the abductive version that the objection is much weaker than they believe it to be. Finally, it is suggested that more evidence is required before anything definitive can be said on the matter
Keywords experience machine  Nozick  hedonism  well-being  prudential hedonism  experience machine objection to hedonism
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-013-9395-8
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The Experience Machine.Ben Bramble - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (3):136-145.
How to Use the Experience Machine.Eden Lin - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (3):314-332.
The Experience Machine and the Expertise Defense.Guido Löhr - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (2):257-273.
Is Pleasure All That is Good About Experience?Willem Deijl - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1-19.

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