Volume 92, Issue 2, April 2015
The Self-Transformation Puzzle
On the Possibility of Radical Self-Transformation
In this paper, I argue that cases of radical selftransformation (cases in which an agent willfully changes a foundational element of their motivational structure) constitute an important philosophical puzzle. Though our inclination to hold people responsible for such changes suggests that we regard radical transformation as (in some sense) self-determined, it is difficult to conceive how a transformation that extends to the heart of an agent’s practical life can be attributed to the agent at all. While I contend that the best way to solve this puzzle is to deny that radical transformations are in fact self-determined, many maintain the opposite. The defense of my thesis involves showing how the conditions that must be met in order to coherently attribute transformation to an agent are not satisfied in cases of radical transformation. Radical transformation is, thus, something that happens to an agent, not something that is done by her.