Philosophical Studies 177 (4):1065-1084 (2020)

Yoaav Isaacs
Baylor University
Laurie Paul has recently argued that transformative experiences pose a problem for decision theory. According to Paul, agents facing transformative experiences do not possess the states required for decision theory to formulate its prescriptions. Agents facing transformative experiences are impoverished relative to their decision problems, and decision theory doesn’t know what to do with impoverished agents. Richard Pettigrew takes Paul’s challenge seriously. He grants that decision theory cannot handle decision problems involving transformative experiences. To deal with the problems posed by transformative experiences, Pettigrew proposes two alterations to decision theory. The first alteration is meant to handle the problem posed by epistemically transformative experiences, and the second alteration is meant to handle the problem posed by personally transformative experiences. I argue that Pettigrew’s proposed alterations are untenable. Pettigrew’s novel decision theory faces both formal and philosophical problems. It is doubtful that Pettigrew can formulate the sort of decision theory he wants, and further doubtful that he should want such a decision theory in the first place. Moreover, the issues with Pettigrew’s proposed alterations help reveal issues with Paul’s initial challenge to decision theory. I suggest that transformative experiences should not be taken to pose a problem for decision theory, but should instead be taken to pose a topic for ethics.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-01235-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,448
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Transformative Experience.L. A. Paul - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Normative Uncertainty Without Theories.Jennifer Rose Carr - 2020 - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):747-762.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Expecting the Unexpected.Tom Dougherty, Sophie Horowitz & Paulina Sliwa - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):301-321.
Transformative Experience and Decision Theory.Richard Pettigrew - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (3):766-774.
Précis of Transformative Experience.L. A. Paul - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (3):760-765.
Even Worse Than It Seems.John Capps - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Research 43:113-124.
Transformative Experience and the Limits of Revelation.Eli Shupe - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (11):3119-3132.
Trans*Formative Experiences.Rachel McKinnon - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):419-440.
Epistemic Transformation and Rational Choice.Krister Bykvist & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (1):125-138.
Transformative Choice: Discussion and Replies.L. A. Paul - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):473-545.


Added to PP index

Total views
74 ( #143,684 of 2,445,942 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #67,290 of 2,445,942 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes