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An Ignorance Account of Hard Choices


Villiger, Daniel (2022). An Ignorance Account of Hard Choices. Res Philosophica, 99(3):321-337.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:900 History
Uncontrolled Keywords:Philosophy
Language:English
Date:1 January 2022
Deposited On:25 Aug 2022 11:41
Last Modified:29 Jan 2024 02:43
Publisher:Bowling Green State University, Philosophy Documentation Center
ISSN:2168-9105
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.11612/resphil.2193