I am in a crossroad at the moment in my life: should I choose the ‘safe’ and easy way or should I change everything? How do you know where to settle in life?

Yours, Sonia

Philosopher's reply

Dear Sonia,

What should you do in conditions of radical uncertainty? You might try ‘expected value theory’: ask yourself how happy you would be with the possible outcomes of change, good or bad, factor in their probabilities, and compare the gamble with the status quo. The problem is you might not know how happy or unhappy you might be. There is no alternative then to exercising judgment: is this life good enough? As Murdoch would insist, there is no formula for that. You can only attend to your circumstance in all its particularity, to the options that confront you, to the people in your life, and to your feelings, hopes and fears. No philosopher can do this for you. Better to trust the judgement of those who love you, and therefore know you, than the abstract theories of those who don’t.

Kieran Setiya

Philosopher's profile

Kieran Setiya


Iris Murdoch taught me that philosophy can be serious and severe but still emotionally sustaining. Her writing showed me that philosophical prose can still be beautiful. She enlarged my sense of what philosophy can be. “To do philosophy is to explore one's own temperament,” Murdoch wrote, “and yet at the same time to attempt to discover the truth.”

How would you answer this question?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *