Quote: Robert Nozick
One way to determine if a view is inadequate is to check its consequences in particular cases, sometimes extreme ones, but if someone always decided what the result should be in any case by applying the given view itself, this would preclude discovering it did not correctly fit the case. Readers who hold they would plug in to the machine should notice whether their first impulse was not to do so, followed later by the thought that since only experiences could matter, the machine would be all right after all.
This is taken from an an essay by Nozick called “Happiness,” and refers to the idea of an “Experience Machine,” a thought experiment he introduced in his earlier Anarchy, State, and Utopia. (By the way, for your general pleasure, here is writer Michael Barrish discussing the aforementioned while making oatmeal.) I chat a little about this myself in an essay.
In any case, I especially liked this passage because of its applicability to perception in general. How often do we observe some new evidence, hear a new argument, and promptly go about re-framing and re-engineering it until we can fit it into our current viewpoints? It’s hard to change your views, easy to change the world to fit them; this sort of goggle-adjusting, I would say, is one of the main reasons why so few deeply-held beliefs are ever altered. When you present their holder with something new, it never reaches its destination—it’s tackled and tie-dyed into something recognizable before it ever has a hope of speaking to anyone in charge. I’m not sure (actually am strongly doubtful) whether Nozick’s solution is any real solution, but the idea is nice.