Alex is six years old. Like many six year olds, he is into dinosaurs, Spiderman, Harry Potter and chocolate. Unlike most six year olds, he is also into e-mail, nanopublishing ("Jen, let's make a book!" he says to me, every time we meet. If he said, "Jen, let's catalogue a book!" it would be even more perfect), the Liar's Paradox, the philosophy of language and, most recently, numbers. See, Alex's parents are philosophy professors and often talk about work at the dinner table. As a result, Alex often thinks and acts more like a second-year philosophy undergraduate than a first grader.
The other night, his parents were discussing Nozick's Experience Machine, because, seriously, if you're a philosophy professor married to another philosophy professor, what else are you going to talk about at dinner? Anyway, from what I understand, the interesting question about the Experience Machine is, "Should we plug into it?" See, if you hooked yourself up to the Experience Machine, it would give you the illusion of having any experience you could possibly desire - and you wouldn't have to do anything! Just sit there and accumulate those experiences. It's a slacker's dream come true. I'd be all, "Sign me up, and let me experience a Frappuccino while I'm at it".
But Alex wasn't so sure. He couldn't articulate why, exactly, but intuitively, this Experience Machine thing didn't sound right to him. His parents played hard-ball with him: "But Alex, the Experience Machine could give you any experience you could possibly want. You could fly! You could jump over tall buildings! You could go back in time and visit the dinosaurs!"
Alex was skeptical. Finally, he said, "I know an experience it wouldn't let me have."
"What's that, sweetie?"
"I bet it wouldn't let me walk on numbers."
Alex one, Nozick zero.