How to rationally approach life's transformative experiences

Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1199-1218 (2015)
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Abstract

In a widely discussed forthcoming article, “What you can't expect when you're expecting,” L. A. Paul challenges culturally and philosophically traditional views about how to rationally make major life-decisions, most specifically the decision of whether to have children. The present paper argues that because major life-decisions are transformative, the only rational way to approach them is to become resilient people: people who do not “over-plan” their lives or expect their lives to play out “according to plan”—people who understand that beyond a certain limit, life cannot be rationally planned and must be accepted as it comes. I show that this focus on resilience—on self-mastery—stands in direct opposition to culturally dominant attitudes toward decision-making, which focus not on the self-mastery but on control and mastery over one's surroundings. In short, I argue that if Paul's general point about transformative experiences is correct, it follows that we rationally ought to adopt a very different approach to life choices, self-development, and the moral education of our children than currently-dominant cultural norms and practices suggest.

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Marcus Arvan
University of Tampa

Citations of this work

Trans*formative Experiences.Rachel McKinnon - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):419-440.
Personal identity, transformative experiences, and the future self.Katja Crone - 2021 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (2):299-310.
Transformative Moral Luck.Marcela Herdova - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):162-180.
Can we make wise decisions to modify ourselves?Rhonda Martens - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Emerging Technologies 29 (1):1-18.

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References found in this work

Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
What Mary Didn't Know.Frank Jackson - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (5):291-295.
What You Can't Expect When You're Expecting'.L. A. Paul - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):1-23.

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