The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 115, Issue 6, June 2018

Kevin Reuter, Michael Messerli
Pages 313-335

Transformative Decisions

Some decisions we make—such as becoming a parent or moving to a different part of the world—are transformative. According to L. A. Paul (Transformative Experience, 2014), transformative decisions pose a major problem to us because they fall outside the realm of rationality. Her argument for that conclusion rests on the premise that subjective value (that is, the value of experiencing a certain outcome of a decision) is central in transformative decisions. This paper challenges that premise and hence the overall conclusion that transformative decisions usually are not rational. In the theoretical part of the paper, we specify conditions under which transformative decisions are possibly rational and likely rational. The data we present in the empirical part of the paper reveal that subjective value often plays only a minor role in people’s decision-making process. Putting both parts together, we argue that people have a great chance of making rational transformative choices.