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

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

Dan Weijers
University of Waikato
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
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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.

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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.

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