Here’s a fun little philosophy mini-game.
Nozick imagines an experience machine, capable of generating experiences, just as vivid, rich and pleasurable as the real thing- for the whole range of desirable human experiences. Nozick argues that experiences had in such a machine would be inherently less meaningful than their real world equivalents.
It seems to me that this may be true of *some* experiences, but not all. Eating a fine meal alone would be no less meaningful in the pleasure machine than eating a fine meal in the real world, but eating a fine meal with friends would be far less meaningful in the pleasure machine than the real world.
We can rank experiences based on how much they lose for being had in a pleasure machine, versus the real world (at least in our perception). Think of such a ranking as being determined by:
(The value of the experience in the pleasure machine)/(The value of the experience in real life)
With higher scores being better.
Assume that the general happiness of yourself and others is being held constant. Thus you shouldn’t rank making a scientific discovery in the real world much higher simply because that will mean there’s one more scientific discovery out there that others will benefit from. Assume all such factors remain constant, except the authenticity of the experience itself.
Try to avoid special constraints based on your own circumstances (e.g., “If I had sex with someone other than my partner in the real world that would be cheating because I am in a relationship, so the value of having sex in the experience machine is actually higher…”)
I’ve included a big list here, so I wouldn’t expect you to rank all of them. Rather, create a few rough indifference classes and indicate which experiences belong in each, and why.
What we are trying to capture and classify here is the intuitive sense that something has been lost. Thus, even if your considered view is that you are a utilitarian and none of them lose anything, try to rank them nonetheless.