Transformative Choices and the Specter of Regret

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (1):72-91 (2022)
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When people are making certain medical decisions – especially potentially transformative ones – the specter of regret may color their choices. In this paper, I ask: can predicting that we will regret a decision in the future serve any justificatory role in our present decision-making? And if so, what role? While there are many pitfalls to such reasoning, I ultimately conclude that considering future retrospective emotions like regret in our decisionmaking can be both rational and authentic. Rather than indicating that one is about to make a mistake or that there is some underlying value that one already cares about but is overlooking, the prediction that one will regret a decision in the future makes one confront how her present values and priorities may change as a result of her choice in ways she cannot presently anticipate.

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Dana Howard
Ohio State University


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