Expecting the Unexpected

Res Philosophica 92 (2):301-321 (2015)
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In an influential paper, L. A. Paul argues that one cannot rationally decide whether to have children. In particular, she argues that such a decision is intractable for standard decision theory. Paul's central argument in this paper rests on the claim that becoming a parent is ``epistemically transformative''---prior to becoming a parent, it is impossible to know what being a parent is like. Paul argues that because parenting is epistemically transformative, one cannot estimate the values of the various outcomes of a decision whether to become a parent. In response, we argue that it is possible to estimate the value of epistemically transformative experiences. Therefore, there is no special difficulty involved in deciding whether to undergo epistemically transformative experiences. Insofar as major life decisions do pose a challenge to decision theory, we suggest that this is because they often involve separate, familiar problems.

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Author Profiles

Sophie Horowitz
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Paulina Sliwa
University of Vienna
Tom Dougherty
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Citations of this work

First personal modes of presentation and the structure of empathy.L. A. Paul - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (3):189-207.
Epistemic Expansions.Jennifer Carr - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):217-236.
Transformative Choice: Discussion and Replies.L. A. Paul - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):473-545.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
The possibility of altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford,: Clarendon P..
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Transformative Experience.Laurie Ann Paul - 2014 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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