Res Philosophica

Volume 99, Issue 3, July 2022

Daniel Villiger
Pages 321-337

An Ignorance Account of Hard Choices

Ignorance is said to be the most widely accepted explanation of what makes choices hard (Chang 2017). But despite its apparent popularity, the debate on hard choices has been dominated by tetrachotomist (e.g., “parity”) and vagueness views. In fact, there is no elaborate ignorance account of hard choices. This article closes this research gap. In so doing, it connects the debate on hard choices with that on transformative experiences (Paul 2014). More precisely, an option’s transformative character can prevent us from epistemically accessing its expected value, promoting ignorance of how to rank the options. Methods of achieving an advance assessment of transformative experiences such as fine-graining, consulting testimony, and using higher-order facts can sometimes evade this epistemic blockade, but not always. Therefore, in cases where these methods fail, a choice can be hard because of our ignorance. The prominent hard choice between two careers could be such a case.