The experience machine.

Subject: General Questions    / College life    


Post #1

Please carefully read and think about the entire prompt before composing your first post. This discussion will require you to have carefully read and thought about the excerpts from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, as well as the Week 4 instructor guidance.

If you recall from Week 2, John Stuart Mill defines happiness as the experience of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, which means that happiness is very much a matter of how I feel “on the inside”. However, Aristotle holds a rather different view of happiness (or in his terms, “eudaimonia”).

One way that we think about this difference is to conduct a “thought experiment” in which we imagine that we have certain “inner” experiences, but outwardly things are quite different. One such thought experiment is provided by the philosopher Robert Nozick in his description of the “experience machine”. After reading about that in the instructor guidance, consider the following questions:

Would Aristotle consider someone hooked into the experience machine truly happy? Explain why or why not.

If you had the chance to be permanently hooked up to the experience machine, would you do it?

Explain your choice. You may include such details as the kind of “experience” you would have them program if you do choose to hook up, what your choice says about what ultimately matters in human life, the difference (if you think there is one) between feeling happy and actually being happy, and so on.

Finally, based on what you said so far, do you think that people can be wrong about happiness?

Post #2

Hill’s understanding of environmental ethics is centered on Aristotle’s views on telosor the ultimate functionality and the end of a particular act, belief, or way of life. He argues against the destruction of the natural world from a humanistic perspective; arguing against the claim that the destruction of natural resources is amoral due to the impact that it would have on the ultimate use humanity has for nature. Rather, he appeals to the moral discomfort humanity has when nature is destroyed to argue that supporting the environment is a human end in and of itself as citizens of the world. Human excellence extends past the individual and societal aims of humanity as a species, Hill argues, and extends to our stewardship of the environment. In this way, his argument is much like Aristotle’s teleological approach which sees the ultimate end as the greatest determiner of the good. The virtuous human is the one who embraces their responsibility to its fullest, acknowledging their power over the environment and committing themselves to the role which they are best suited to fill (environmental protectors). In doing this, they actualize themselves to the fullest and live up to their ultimate virtuous potential. Virtue in certain activities is necessary for their completion, such as in the case of firefighters who require the virtue of courage and teamwork in order to fulfill their role. Like in the case of environmental protection, virtue serves to fulfill the ultimate good or the best potential moral end by empowering people to do what is best not just for themselves but for the world around them as well. This philosophy of working towards an ultimate good for its own sake is what lies at the heart of both Hill and Aristotle’s approaches to the human condition.