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Res Philosophica

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published on July 3, 2015

Elizabeth Harman
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2015.92.2.8

Transformative Experiences and Reliance on Moral Testimony

Some experiences are transformative in that it is impossible to imagine experiencing them until one experiences them. It has been argued that pregnancy and parenthood are like that, and that therefore one cannot make a rational decision whether to become a mother. I argue that pregnancy and parenthood are not like that; but that if even if they are, a woman can still make a rational decision by relying on testimony about the value of these experiences. I then discuss an objection that such testimony will be unreliable because parents will reflect on their being glad that their children exist, and will not realize that it’s reasonable to be glad their children exist even if the parents’ lives are thereby worse. I argue that despite this possible route to unreliable testimony, in general it is reasonable to rely on others’ testimony about the value of their lives.

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