Reference Class: Vampire
By Amy Willis
Why would anyone want to become a vampire? And why would that be such a hard decision? It may sound silly, but this is the basis of a serious thought experiment at the heart of this episode. Host Russ Roberts welcomed philosopher L.A. Paul to discuss her book, Transformative Experience; choosing to become a vampire would certainly qualify as one example.
What’s wrong with the way we make our most important life decisions? Does Paul have some wisdom to help you with your next life-changing choice? Share your reactions to this episode; we love to hear from you.
1- What does Paul mean by diachronic decisions and act-state independence? How do these concepts help explain Roberts’s complaint that using expected utility in decision-making is a stupid idea?
2- What does Paul mean by being a member of a “reference class?” What are some ways in which you can better imagine being a part of one?
3- Which do you think is more influential in decision-making- epistemic revelation or epistemic humility? Explain.
4- What are some ways in which Paul suggests we might build decision-making models based on epistemic humility? How might such practices improve our lives? What role should morality play in such decision-making?
5- What is the purpose of the story of the Mediocre Chess Player? To what extent does this analogy explain the way you have made significant life decisions in the past?