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Res Philosophica

Volume 92, Issue 2, April 2015

Transformative Experiences

Nathaniel Sharadin
Pages 441-452

How You Can Reasonably Form Expectations When You're Expecting

L. A. Paul has argued that an ordinary, natural way of making a decision—by reflecting on the phenomenal character of the experiences one will have as a result of that decision—cannot yield rational decision in certain cases. Paul’s argument turns on the (in principle) epistemically inaccessible phenomenal character of certain experiences. In this paper I argue that, even granting Paul a range of assumptions, her argument doesn’t work to establish its conclusion. This is because, as I argue, the phenomenal character of an experience supervenes on epistemically accessible facts about its non-phenomenal character plus what the deciding agent is like. Because there are principles that link the non-phenomenal character of experiences (together with what a particular agent is like) to the phenomenal character of experiences, agents can reasonably form expectations about the valence of the phenomenal character of the experiences that they are deciding whether to undergo. These reasonable expectations are, I argue, enough to make the ordinary, natural way of making a decision yield rational decision.