Read the Scenario and Decide Whether You'll Accept the Opportunity or Reject It

timer Asked: Sep 7th, 2014

Question Description

The Scenario

Engineering students at Grantham University have developed an exciting new machine—a box with some electrodes and a life-support system—which we call the “Happiness Box.” Only students in specific courses are invited to take advantage of this unique opportunity to participate, and we are inviting you to try it.

If you choose to get in the box, you will experience a powerfully pleasant sensation, which will continue indefinitely with just enough variation to keep you from getting too used to it. Additionally, you are not giving up your free will; if you later decide to do so, you can get out of the box any time you want to return to your previous lifestyle. It should be mentioned, however, that no one so far, once they have gotten into the Happiness Box, has ever wanted to get out of it.

After ten hours or so in the box, we hook up the life-support system, and people spend their lifetimes there. Of course, they never do anything else, so their bodies tend to resemble half-filled water balloons after a few years because of the lack of exercise. But that never bothers them either; they are so happy that their physical appearances and other superficial concerns no longer matter to them.

Finally, we also want to assure you that while you will not know they are there, your family will be able to visit your Happiness Box any time they miss you. We also would like to dispel any possible notions about machines trying to take over the world and creating a false reality for all human beings; that was a fictitious theme in a popular science fiction movie—which, incidentally, was written by people who were interested in and inspired by Philosophy.


Now, it is your decision, and we would like you to be very specific as you either accept or reject this opportunity.

  1. Would you like to accept the invitation and step into the Happiness Box? 
  2. Explain your primary reason for accepting or rejecting the invitation to join the Happiness Box project. 
  3. If you are accepting it, explain why you are likely (or not likely) planning to stay longer than 10 hours. (We need this information in order to make sure we have everything ready to set up the life support system.) Incidentally, what time will you be arriving? 
  4. If you are rejecting the invitation, what additional information or considerations would you need to eliminate your apprehensions in order to accept this invitation?


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