Religious Experience, Voluntarist Reasons, and the Transformative Experience Puzzle

Res Philosophica 93 (1):269-287 (2016)
Authors
Rebecca Chan
San Jose State University
Abstract
Transformative experiences are epistemically and personally transformative: prior to having the experience, agents cannot predict the value of the experience and cannot anticipate how it will change their core values and preferences. Paul argues that these experiences pose a puzzle for standard decision-making procedures because values cannot be assigned to outcomes involving transformative experience. Responding philosophers are quick to point out that decision procedures are built to handle uncertainty, including the uncertainty generated by transformative experience. My paper enters here and contributes two points. First, religious experiences are transformative experiences that are especially resistant to these responses. Second, a procedure that appeals to voluntarist reasons—reasons arising from an act of the will—can allow an agent to rationally decide to undergo or avoid an outcome involving transformative experience. Combining these two points results in some interesting implications with respect to practical aspects of religion.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 2168-9105
DOI 10.11612/resphil.2016.93.1.16
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References found in this work BETA

The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
What You Can't Expect When You're Expecting'.L. A. Paul - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):1-23.
Transformative Experience.L. A. Paul - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
Grounding Practical Normativity: Going Hybrid.Ruth Chang - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):163-187.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1996 - Mind 106 (424):791-794.

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