Intuitive Biases in Judgements about Thought Experiments: The Experience Machine Revisited

Philosophical Writings 41 (1):17-31 (2013)

Authors
Dan Weijers
University of Waikato
Abstract
This paper is a warning that objections based on thought experiments can be misleading because they may elicit judgments that, unbeknownst to the judger, have been seriously skewed by psychological biases. The fact that most people choose not to plug in to the Experience Machine in Nozick’s (1974) famous thought experiment has long been used as a knock-down objection to hedonism because it is widely thought to show that real experiences are more important to us than pleasurable experiences. This paper argues that the commonplace choice to remain in reality when offered a life in the Experience Machine is best explained by status quo bias – the irrational preference for things to remain the same. An alternative thought experiment, empirical evidence, and discussion of how psychological biases can affect our judgments are provided to support this argument.
Keywords Experience Machine  Thought Experiments  Intuitions  Biases  Status Quo Bias
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,307
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
.Daniel Kahneman & Shane Frederick - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Experience Machine and the Expertise Defense.Guido Löhr - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (2):257-273.
What If Well-Being Measurements Are Non-Linear?Daniel Wodak - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):29-45.
Happiness.Dan Haybron - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Nozick’s Experience Machine: An Empirical Study.Frank Hindriks & Igor Douven - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (2):278-298.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

If You Like It, Does It Matter If It’s Real?Felipe De Brigard - 2010 - Philosophical Psychology 23 (1):43-57.
Affect, Rationality, and the Experience Machine.Basil Smith - 2012 - Ethical Perspectives 19 (2):268-276.
The Experience Machine Deconstructed.H. E. Baber - 2008 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 15 (1):133-138.
How to Use the Experience Machine.Eden Lin - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (3):314-332.
We Can Test the Experience Machine: Reply to Smith.Dan Weijers - 2012 - Ethical Perspectives 19 (2):261-268.
Can We Test the Experience Machine?Basil Smith - 2011 - Ethical Perspectives 18 (1):29-51.
Choosing the Experience Machine.Steven M. Cahn & Christine Vitrano - 2013 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 20 (1):52-58.
Mental Statism and the Experience Machine.Adam J. Kolber - 1994 - Bard Journal of Social Sciences 3:10-17.
Hedonism and the Experience Machine.Alex Barber - 2011 - Philosophical Papers 40 (2):257 - 278.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-10-26

Total views
53 ( #214,302 of 2,507,870 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,715 of 2,507,870 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes