[SydPhil] Mara Bollard: The Experience Machine: Monday

Kristie Miller kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 25 15:50:45 AEST 2012

Hi all,

This Monday's current projects seminar will be Mara Bollard speaking on:

The Experience Machine Revisited

Abstract: According to mental state accounts of well-being, a person’s well-being is constituted solely by her mental states. Robert Nozick’s well-known experience machine thought experiment is often considered a decisive refutation of such accounts because it is thought to show that well-being requires more than just mental states; namely, a connection to reality. In this paper, I argue that the experience machine thought experiment (hereafter TEM) cannot be taken as a knockdown objection to mental state theories of well-being for three main reasons: First, that TEM elicits the intuition that a connection to reality matters to us does not entail the conclusion that a connection to reality is intrinsically prudentially valuable. Second, it is possible that the intuition elicited by TEM is tracking forms of value other than prudential value such as moral value. Third, even if the intuition is ostensibly tracking prudential value, there is good reason to think that the intuition is unreliable because it is affected by status quo bias and other irrelevant factors. It will be concluded that appeals to TEM alone cannot decisively defeat mental state theories of well-being. I will also briefly consider the implications of the problems with TEM for the general practice of using intuitions about thought experiments as evidence for or against theories. 

Papers are in the philosophy common room, 1.00-2.30.

Dr. Kristie Miller
University of Sydney 
Senior Research Fellow
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and
The Centre for Time
The University of Sydney
Sydney Australia
Room 407, A 14

kmiller at usyd.edu.au
kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Ph: +612 9036 9663

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