In Defense of Happiness: A Response to the Experience Machine

Social Theory and Practice 26 (2):279-300 (2000)
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Many philosophers believe that Robert Nozick's experience machine argument poses an insurmountable obstacle to hedonism as a theory of well-being. After an initial attempt to demonstrate that the persuasiveness of this argument rests on a key ambiguity, I argue that the intuitions to which the thought experiment appeals are not nearly as clear as many philosophers suppose they are. I believe that a careful consideration of the origin of those intuitions -- especially in light of the so-called "paradox of hedonism" -- reveals that they can, in fact, fit quite comfortably into a hedonistic theory of well-being.
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