Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Amy Kind

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This thesis analyzes L.A. Paul’s concept of transformative experience. It specifically analyzes Paul’s criteria for transformative experiences (TEs), which are experiences that are so epistemically (ET) and personally transformative (PT) that an agent can’t know what it’s like to have a TE until having the experience itself. Paul argues that the transformative nature of these experiences prevent us from being able to make a rational choice using our normative way of decision-making. According to Paul, this is especially problematic because some of life’s biggest choices involve TEs. I begin with an overview of Paul’s main thought experiments that illustrate the structure of TEs that real-world agents face. I then clarify Paul’s criteria for TE, and ET and PT experiences. I argue that life’s biggest choices are not ET, except in very rare cases, and thus are not TEs. I conclude that in the vast majority of cases, we can make rational choices when faced with life’s biggest decisions.