Me and My Life by Shelly Kagan Essay

Me and My Life by Shelly Kagan Essay

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An individual’s welfare can be explained as their state of contentment that can be achieved throughout one’s life. Increasing this state of well-being can be obtained by pursuing and gaining what is intrinsically good for the individual. Experientialism states that subjective experiences are the sole things which are intrinsically good and capable of promoting welfare in individuals. The plausibility of this view arises from the fact that we desire experiences not just for their instrumental benefits, but because they are good ‘in and of themselves’. This view has faced some fervent opposition though, most strongly in the form of Nozick’s Experience Machine. Robert Nozick conveys that experiences are not the only things that are intrinsically good and that we desire genuine connections to reality as well. In response to this, I will present Shelly Kagan’s argument that genuine connections to reality are unrelated to an individual’s welfare and therefore, cannot contribute to the well-being of an individual and Experientialism remains standing as a strong philosophical theory.
What would be left of your life after it has been stripped of all experiences? Just your physical body, the ground you’re standing on, and the duration for which you have been existing is a plausible hypothesis. Our hearts would beat, our eyes would blink, and our neurons will fire but a ginormous component of life seems to be missing from this scenario. Life and experiences are definitely related and it seems relatively easy to accept that a life void of experiences cannot be considered a life that has satisfied anybody’s well-being. However, that does not necessarily mean that experiences are intrinsically good for an individual as Experientialism proposes....


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... declare that they are not well-off plugging into the machine. (If one is mentally unaware of the deception, the deception cannot affect their mental states).
Though plugging into the Experience Machine may not bestow a good life for an individual, it does not decrease their welfare because the deception cannot be considered to have an intrinsic effect and that is the sole thing welfare must be altered by. Hence, genuine connections to reality that are lacking in the Experience Machine are not intrinsic desires affecting an individual’s welfare and objections to Experientialism have been effectively addressed and rebuked.



Works Cited

Kagan, Shelly. "Me and My Life." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. 94. (1994): 309-324. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. .
Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Basis Books, 1974. 118-119. Print.

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