Expecting the Unexpected

Res Philosophica 92 (2):301-321 (2015)
Tom Dougherty
Cambridge University
Paulina Sliwa
Cambridge University
Sophie Horowitz
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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.
Keywords Decision Theory  Transformative Experience
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DOI 10.11612/resphil.2015.92.2.5
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
What You Can't Expect When You're Expecting'.L. A. Paul - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):1-23.
The Possibility of Altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford Clarendon Press.
Transformative Experience.L. A. Paul - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

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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