Nozick’s Experience Machine

Robert Nozick had a famous thought experiment that can be summed up in the following way: Imagine there was a machine, while in the machine, an algorithm is run that lets you experience anything you want. It seeks to maximize your happiness as fully as possible. The machine is capable of giving you hardship, boredom, heartbreak, etc., provided that it works to maximize your pleasure and joy. While in the machine you forget you are in a false reality. You do not know true reality.

Nozick would ask his students if they would enter the machine. Often they did not want to. For Nozick this demonstrated problems with hedonism and utilitarianism. He figured, perhaps there is some sort of objective value in reality. Something that would give us reason to choose authenticity over happiness and pleasure, at least at times. …

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I burnt the flag because I love America.

I burnt the flag because I hate America.

Above is a photo of myself on a July 4th a few years ago. The tone is one of punk adolescent fun. I didn’t have any sort of message in mind when the photo was taken. However as I’ve become more and more coherent in my own political philosophy, the symbolism of the moment has clarified itself, ex post facto. I think everyone should burn an american flag this 4th of July.

Free speech is an american principle. The United States of American was one of the first places in the world where it was written out as a formal legal right. Of course it wasn’t until the late 20th century, with cases like US v. Eichman and Texas v. Johnson, that flag burning was recognized as protected symbolic speech. As long as you own the flag and the fire doesn’t spread, you have every legal right to take a lighter to the The Star-Spangled Banner. …


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