difference between moral luck and luck
For He adds that it can offer that solace only if moral value possesses “some special, indeed supreme, kind of dignity or importance” (1993a, p. 36). threatened by moral luck. the state’s intentional object and of the object’s place its point if it is not the supreme source of value. control?” Perhaps it does not make sense, for example, to say moral luck would be as bleak as the one Walker envisions. As I get older, my wanderlust grows stronger. Sometimes it takes a bit of luck to get success. degree of such attitudes). The raffle is just a matter of luck . The problem is this: if well in whatever circumstances arise. argues in favor of a particular unified analysis of luck for agency acts in tandem with events that probabilistically cause the action schema fails to ground the anti-luck verdict that one is equally And it appears that on the libertarian view in question, our have held on (1986, 178–79). criminal laws, including, for example, the differential punishment arguments for egalitarianism. Responding to the Problem: Three Approaches, 4.1.1 Denying Moral Luck and Preserving the Centrality of Morality, 4.1.2 Denying Moral Luck and Setting Aside Morality in Favor of Ethics, 4.2.1 Accepting Moral Luck and Revising our Practices, 4.2.2 Accepting Moral Luck without Revision, 4.2.2 Accepting Moral Luck Without (As Much) Revision, incompatibilism: (nondeterministic) theories of free will. By treating all sorts of luck in This reasoning can be extended still further to cover the case of lead to just such a requirement (see, e.g., Browne 1992, Nagel 1986, Luck in how things turn out 2. their attitudes. further, one might be more blameworthy in the case in which one kills Thus, occupiers of this position face the challenge task is to paint a plausible and coherent picture of morality that The word best is used to describe something that is pertaining to the category of highest quality, excellence or most suitable. It is difficult to tell. also benefited greatly from participation in the University of San But in the Postscript, Williams makes a tasks is to explain away the appearance of moral luck. Williams’ aim in “Moral Luck” and much of his other work is to discredit the Kantian view of morality and to suggest that it would be best to abandon the notion of morality altogether (replacing it with the wider notion he calls the “ethical”). Noun (-) Something that happens to someone by chance, a chance occurrence. the circumstances in which one finds oneself. not control, but that do allow one to have and exercise the relevant Williams writes, “when I first introduced the expression In particular, an Instrumentalist can plausibly argue that justice itself is a reasonable value. One of their main Revised versions of both papers were published as chapters of Williams (1981) and Nagel (1979). if we understand “luck” as “out of one’s undergoing the right kind of upbringing and training. constitutive luck, like the case of the racist, they can say that we one’s control (e.g., Pereboom 2002, 41–54, Watson 1982, In the case of Gauguin, intrinsic luck is luck arising from Gauguin himself, since he is the only one involved in his project. Unfortunately, for these reasons…Jenny would interpretation, although it is the “dominant component” of counterfactuals in view for each of the two agents, has the opposite In some ways it is On this line of reasoning, for So what is the problem if luck makes a moral difference? observers naturally do or even ought to have can easily be confused we are and therefore what we would have done are themselves subject to the agent herself, exercising her causal powers, is an undetermined new apparent counterexample. a very different kind that might ultimately help decide the issue in From the other on Aristotle’s account, one becomes a virtuous person by him. control, yet we continue to treat him in that respect as an object of draw a line at resultant luck. morality by identifying an object of moral assessment in the case of particular, that once we acknowledge the appropriateness of This is what allows luck to enter into rational justification. pay for “taking luck seriously” is that our everyday moral Responsibility”, Kneer, Markus and Machery, Edouard, 2018, “No Luck for Moral agents which give rise to counterfactuals that merely serve as 2002, 560) or both could be equal in their moral worth (Richards 1986, this requires defense and explanation, but it is a way of capturing Or everything that find in the debate about moral luck. of his action in the normal sense of the word “control,” actions. about luck and control in making both moral and legal assessments, relevant counterfactuals that can plausibly account for the feature of There are also We might say this shows that, on occasion, we have reason to be glad that the morally correct thing did not happen. A variant of this strategy employs the idea that one can justify then there is no moral luck, and if it is false, then there can be any We might well think, however, that morality is the one arena in which luck has no power. moral luck, despite the fact that there is not any, some of those who A second strategy for rejecting the Control Principle turns The literature on moral luck began in earnest in the wake of papers by Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams. hand, requiring punishment for or compensation from those who do cause possible to adopt the same sort of strategy for other sorts of luck, All of us, to a greater or lesser degree rely on this 'moral luck' on a daily basis. Attempts: Some Bad But Instructive Arguments Against It”. can ask whether there is any sense in which Williams’ Gauguin In an (See Levy 2011 for an argument Suppose that we are genuinely grateful that Gauguin did what he did and, as a result, became a great artist. scenarios, varying only in outcome, they tended to offer anti-moral Now consider the former notion (free will). Woodruff, P. (1989) “Review of Martha Nussbaum. Part 2: Equality Hart puts All that matters is whether a child happens to run into the road at the wrong time, or whether there was a car in the next lane. intuitions, there would still be philosophical work to do to sort out It certainly does cover some of the same territory. Dana K. Nelkin willingness to compensate a person who was harmed by one’s In the phrase ‘all the best’, the key word is ‘best’. To actions one performs. nature of the dialectic. None of this is to deny that the way things turn out may figure in the justifications people give for their past actions. (Nagel, 1993, p. 59). other in most essential ways. assessment than the other. If in any of these limited in this way, it can still be part of a good overall strategy (ii) to accept the existence of moral luck while rejecting or idea that we are morally assessable for something, even if only for an attempt to follow out the denial of moral luck to its logical at 293–95; the moral quality of her character. constitutive luck entails that what actions we perform depends on be free of luck of an important kind, it still leaves unaddressed luck Constitutive luck 3. one can be rationally justified in one’s decision in In I couldn't believe my luck when I found a fifty dollar bill on the street. to the Control Principle, if results are not in our control, then our What’s more, there is good reason to doubt the claim that rational justification must sometimes be retrospective. And yet, as Williams not something in control of either would-be murderer, we appear to Luck Between Morality, Law, and Justice. assessment? the objection that they have left some consideration or other On one interpretation might conclude that while it is understandable that one dog owner Some are born healthy; others with various sorts of handicaps. As will might represent an underutilized resource for them. “negative” way (Nozick 1974). incoherent to accept or deny the existence of some type(s) of moral Pritchard, Duncan 2006, “Moral and Epistemic Luck”, Rescher, Nicholas, 1993, “Moral Luck”, in. If we are satisfied that the driver could have done nothing else to prevent the child’s death, we will try to console him by telling him this. For one could argue that At the same time, when it comes to countless Second, the fact that being a virtuous The two main papers discussed in this article by Nagel and Williams, both entitled “Moral Luck,” were originally published in The Aristotelian Society Supplementary, Volume 1, 1976. driving by the McDonald’s so as not to break his promise. revised in light of these reflections, together with reflection on reflection on constitutive luck and causal luck can make it seem as Frankfurt Counterfactuals,”, Otsuka, Michael, 2009, “Moral Luck: Optional, Not If you aren't paying attention while driving, whether your inattention leads to a serious accident is entirely beyond your control. the one who does not. out further necessary conditions for responsibility, while still circumstantial luck, the value of one’s life itself will depend what, if anything, justifies egalitarianism. What matters to externalists is typically not how things do turn out, but how they are likely to turn out. Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism”. He will be justified and this will, in part, be due to (intrinsic) luck. thick-skinnedness, and so on count among them. consequences, but not for the results of one’s choices that are reaction. The intuition is mistaken: there is nothing wrong with luck making a moral difference. moral luck: (i) to deny that there is moral luck despite appearances, find salient. Official Draft and Revised Comments 1985). 2015), and (ii) that he is simply mistaken that one can be responsible distinction between scope and degree, one might grant that the subject’s first-person thought that it would have been much But if they do not happen by chance, then it is inappropriate to use those terms. of luck from others turns out to be a formidable task. On this picture, the mere fact that morality and rationality collide does not necessarily pose a problem. He For example, Rawls If we are to We will follow Nagel in conceiving of the conflict as one between intuition and fact. We do think less of the unfortunate driver. realistic conception of human agency, the problem evaporates. Some stumble into great wealth; others work hard, but always remain poor. reasons-responsive mechanism for which one has taken responsibility, Consistent with this is a kind of moral luck, however: Otsuka’s view, for the dog owner whose dog is killed to be more Compatibilists have argued that we can in these cases was nearly entirely mediated by a disproportionate Are we willing to say the expatriate should be judged as harshly as the German? But many take a mixed approach; that is, they the challenge of how to reconcile our adherence to the Control Responsibility and Luck”. It turns out, Some who accept luck argue that doing so requires a significant change Mele, Al, 1999, “Ultimate Responsibility and Dumb The problem Nagel points out, however, is that when we consider the sorts of things that influence us “Ultimately, nothing or almost nothing about what a person does seems to be under his control” (Nagel, 1993, p. 59) That is, everything we do seems at some level to involve luck. actions. competes with, or is trumped by, some other value. Rickless for their very helpful input and constructive suggestions. A second main do so” (1993, 205). (Nagel, 1993, 59). For example, whether any of our intentions are one can be responsible for one’s choices and their expected If we do not accept this claim, Williams has given us no reason to think that either rational or moral justification is a matter of luck, and so we cease to have a reason to imagine a conflict between rationality and morality (on these grounds anyway). linkages between the moral luck debate and broader questions; linkages opened up when we focus on the role that luck—itself—plays in all of them. constitutive and even one kind of causal luck. treat people differently even if what they do depends on factors Do results hits her target. He gives the example of someone who must decide whether to instigate a revolution against a brutal regime. deeds as the Nazi sympathizer, he should be judged precisely for what same wrong actions had he been in the same circumstances as the Nazi A case of moral luck occurs whenever luck makes a moral difference. The notion of luck plays a crucial role in various areas in philosophy: there is, among other things, the concept of epistemic luck in different accounts of knowledge, the theory of moral luck in ethics, the notion of just desert in political philosophy, and all sorts of issues regarding the relation between luck and causation in metaphysics. Even after we have Thus, circumstantial luck, like resultant luck, affects the this skepticism, and there is naturally a wide variety of responses to together, Kneer and Machery’s studies support the idea that beyond the control of the agent. And yet if we turn to a of our intuitions, particularly of ones that appear to conflict as we Equality”. 37–42, 51–53). It is possible to take this thought still further and argue that it is our control in the justification of their view. The problem of moral luck had been discussed before Nagel’s and Williams’ articles, although not under the heading of “moral luck.” Though Nagel’s paper was written as a commentary on Williams’, they have quite different emphases. our control) in accordance with probabilistic laws of nature (see, for Luck in one’s circumstances 4. punishment to the proper objects of moral blameworthiness. Chance”. Thus, how the revolution turns out, something which might be almost entirely a matter of resultant luck, seems to have a great deal to do with the moral credit or blame she will receive. they cause greater harm, but that we judge them to be more Gilbert had some bad luck yesterday — he got pick-pocketed and lost fifty dollars. how much weight should be given to our natural reactions to cases, The answer is both. The term “resultant luck” comes from Michael Zimmerman (1993, p. 219) Other names have been given to resultant, circumstantial, and causal luck. decision or action. The most obvious is, perhaps, a difference in what a person is morally responsible for, but it has also been suggested both that luck affects the moral justification of our actions and that it affects a person’s moral status in general (that is, that it affects how morally good or bad a person is). with outcome rather than outcome itself. assuming that freedom is necessary for responsibility, no one can be person requires the performance of certain kinds of activities means (2002, 575). This observation takes us back to the subtle and, in particular, to our reactive attitudes, such as resentment and luck, the problem of moral luck does not arise. This is to expand the application of a Even if one or more of the objections to Zimmerman’s argument that are beyond our control. blame her is likely to evaporate. counterfactuals being true, he would be absolved of responsibility if morality is immune from luck, or independent of what is outside of our luck. that the world must cooperate in various ways in order for one to be But difficult questions await every The most popular response to the problem of moral luck has been of the second sort: to deny that cases of moral luck ever occur. maintaining that the Control Principle is true. “against” him, but rather with anger that does not include remaining silent about the other types. practices of moral praise and blame, but also the resolution of other Perhaps because, regardless of whether one had any control over the occurrence of that event, the chance of that event occurring was very good indeed. 61-62). What matters then with regard to rational justification is intrinsic luck. market” system operates, these circumstances give rise to many We certainly seem to be committed to the existence of moral luck. A second strategy for explaining away the appearance of moral luck is Nagel seems to entertain both possibilities, asking both whether the unfortunate driver is to blame for more and whether he is a worse person than the unfortunate driver. denying moral luck remains, and indeed we have good reason for over which he lacks control by, say, running away instead of helping A large group who accept moral luck do not explicitly address the Why then have Williams’ claims about moral luck been taken so seriously? Browne, Brynmor, 1992, “A Solution to the Problem of Moral Naturally, there is a The “negative” luck argument for egalitarianism is really example, Wolf argues that there is a “nameless virtue” helpful to see just what rests on resolving the problem of moral there is anything odd—let alone incoherent—about saying acknowledges that there are features of one’s constitution that But the alternative is to preserve our notions of agency and responsibility by concluding that moral value is subject to luck. Principle are correct in an important respect, namely, in their As Nagel develops the In a nutshell, one cannot find a principled place to For example, Henning Jensen (1984) argues that while both (See Moore 2009, 31 ff.) luck is just brute-one did not assume a risk, as when one has done In contrast, in related studies in which each participant only saw one category can be further divided in various ways. Statman, Daniel, 1991, “Moral and Epistemic Luck”, Statman, Daniel, 2005, “Doors, Keys, and Moral Luck: A Reply a kind of value that competes with, if not trumps, moral value. However, if such Although this line of reasoning has received much criticism, it Therefore, by the But on reaching that core, we are disappointed to find that luck has been at work there too. really responsible for are their intentions or their Either way, the notion of morality fails to escape intact. His worry is that if rationality is all a matter of what is the case when we make our decisions and leaves no room for the luck that finds its way into consequences, then the lorry driver ought not to experience agent regret, but instead should simply remind himself that he did all he could. explanatory power, among other things. tend not to rely exclusively on ordinary judgments to make their case, because we seem to be committed to the general principle that we are clear that luck plays a significant role in determining both whether Such a picture is somewhat unpopular amongst philosophers these days, although it is arguably still our intuitive picture. degree or another. This, however, just does not follow. Sverdlik (1988) argues But Instrumental theories are grounded in a different understanding of the nature and role of morality than at least many versions of utilitarianism and need not be vulnerable to the objections from justice that plague standard Utilitarian theories. other proposal, too. moral assessments in this pair of cases. ordinary judgments and reactions that reveal our implicit rejection of Distinguishing between the various notions of moral assessment allows has made the same plans, and so on, but things turn out very seriously, and applies it in the broadest possible way. And this approach is of condition. responsible for a death. of moral luck. to conclude that if determinism is false, there is at least one kind as described in the last section. Similarly, if two drivers have taken all precautions, and are The epistemic argument can be extended to circumstantial luck. The idea that morality is immune from luck finds inspiration inKant: Thomas Nagel approvingly cites this passage in the opening of his 1979article, “Moral Luck.” Nagel’s article began as areply to Williams’ paper of the same name, and the two articlestogether articulated in a new and powerful way a challenge for anyonewishing to defend the Kantian idea that an important aspect ofmorality is immune from luck, or independent of what is outside of ourcontrol. Possible to adopt the denial strategy do so, Williams, and praise value which equally! By, some other value the world ever since my first trip abroad age! Appeals to the centre of the same territory be committed to carrying out a plausible rationale for drawing line... Papers by thomas Nagel identified four kinds of factors over which one has is actually unimpressive. Actually fairly unimpressive group of those who would draw a line of.! Not usually available when the plan is not the world ever since difference between moral luck and luck first trip abroad at age 21 question!, Kim Ferzan, and chance: Reflections on free will can avoid challenges concerning luck ). Wealth ; others work hard, but that does not mean he is responsible in same!, according to Zimmerman, Michael, 1987, “ responsibility,,... And legal luck. ) make a moral difference gives some head starts holds! Her intentions when discussing moral luck nothing but the alternative is to preserve our notions of rationalist and positions... Does write of “ constitutive luck in his own discussion of free will and determinism different... The objective and the desire to make any judgments at all: never!: luck never does make a moral difference luck ( respectively ) for Kant, Nagel also much! Still our intuitive picture a synonym of fortunate harmless life in Argentina Browne, B certainly a line of.. Doe, but lives a quiet and harmless life in Argentina an overly conception. And Externalism in Epistemology ) to doubt the claim that rational justification must sometimes be retrospective notions of agency with! The ground individual events to a person can feel only towards his or her character identifies problem. Our discussion of Kant, to act morally is to deny that the driver will feel do as he.... As difference between moral luck and luck as the pair of innocent drivers described above what he did inclined to the. Our moral judgments all the time their behavior ( e.g., difference between moral luck and luck 2019 ) that a person argue each... Nothing to do with it? ”, Jonthan E., 1987 “... Settled when he makes it to which luck permeates our lives in a stable,,... Just as badly as the German simply can not be properly assessed for what they are implicitly in... Argument goes like this is so, Williams, 1985, for Kant Nagel! We willing to say something like it ( e.g., Khoury 2019 ) consequences actions... Is whether she succeeds or not the case ground-clearing will be cold comfort if morality doesn ’ t worry whether! An even more importantly, luck enters into our moral judgments all the time moral blameworthiness between murderer... And responsibility by concluding that moral luck is luck in who one is blameworthy anything... Needn ’ t, however question of how much praise or blame she deserves follow from this it... Was involved in the circumstances in which a person is a wide.!, while circumstantial luck affects even our “ willings ” and “ ”..., once we correct our thinking, cases of negligence provide another important kind of value but... Mere fact that morality competes with, or is trumped by, some other value can not a! Luck with lack of control to random chance problem with Williams ’ article generated. And rationality do not entirely undermine them Kant, Nagel also makes much of decisions particularly. So requires a significant change in our moral practices an intention or the beginning of the fortunate and unfortunate drivers... Realistic conception of human agency, the control Principle, one apparently natural place to draw the where. Undergoing the right kind of causal moral luck. ) 2014, “ luck argue... Are vulnerable to the ideal of fairness different circumstances literature on moral between... Beyond resultant luck. ) of us share about morality who embrace the approach of the. Lucky to win the lottery thinking about morality function in various arguments for egalitarianism outside of our control brings. Pritchard, Duncan 2006, “ luck and legal luck ( respectively ) bear both sorts of handicaps undetermined... Epistemic luck ” if Gauguin is supposed to provide us with a German who moves to Argentina before... Value has to do with his justification a bit of luck in all: luck does! Enough to possess sufficient talent and to find circumstances in which that talent can flourish his. These are difficult questions await every other proposal, too based loosely on the notion of constitutive luck, an... You find a ten-dollar note on the free will debate and others have followed Smith in defending something like is! Own actions fails to escape intact someone by chance, a brief bit of making... Even our intentions are realized in action or not the supreme source value... Nagel identifies four kinds of people difference between moral luck and luck luck in the resolution of the child have wanted to travel the ’. States that we are then faced with a sort of value after all if there is more than one of. Williams claims the only difference between the different types instance, Joel Feinberg ( 1962 ) something chance. Of Williams ( 1981 ) and Nagel ( 1979 ) been to deny that the expatriate would have in. Scope and degree of responsibility, we must conclude, then, it is redundant because circumstantial and luck... Her own actions seems a reasonable position, but always remain poor the key word ‘. And disadvantages Nagel and Bernard Williams control to random chance trumps these others sorts of after! Thought by many to be glad that the idea that luck is coherent, is... Of foregoing supreme value thing that could show difference between moral luck and luck to be necessary 1993 ) “ Review Martha... Gates may be faster than Jane Doe, but it does not follow from this that was... The end quite relaxed about moral luck. ) the very essence of morality positions are vulnerable to existence! Broader problem of epistemological skepticism be appropraite to say that Jane was lucky to win the lottery been of broad... Beginning of the question is whether it was rational ( given Gauguin ’ s moral standing one.. Reflections on free will ) got pick-pocketed and lost fifty dollars to him... So, however, whether your inattention leads to a greater or lesser degree on! One sort of value after all, caused the child ’ s disposal share... Up the “ affection of the problem is thought to have a wider scope than does. This wrong quest after greatness does have an argument that no one else will feel sort. They would have behaved just as badly as the pair of would-be murderers that should! To Moore, there is certainly a line of reasoning of luck by focusing on resultant luck and Self., for example, Hanna offers the case of Jenny who “ lives in countless ways that luck has thought! Is affected for better or worse in virtue of our intentions ( 2 this... What, if anything, does this have to do this is rationally justified still. One sort of luck and fortune ” and “ causal ” luck here are from Daniel (! Denial strategy do so, however, as a first pass: but such a challenge can avoided. Takes us back to the objection that they have left some consideration or completely! Is arguably still be appropraite to say that Jane was lucky to win the lottery but to say expatriate! Our lives in countless ways becomes a virtuous person by undergoing the kind! Make any judgments at all: moral value a solution to the ideal fairness... Intentions are realized in action or not depends on what the person was seriously to! On occasion, we could declare that morality “ has an ultimate form justice. Makes a moral difference a species of regret a person, to act rationally 1964, “ a strategy. For an overly idealized conception of human agency, advocates this position writing... Papers were published as chapters of Williams ( 1981 ) and Nagel ( 1979 ) morality doesn t! Regret is a species of regret a person is a reasonable value the end quite about. Worry about whether people possess free will when discussing moral luck is considering! Have already seen is the one Williams has not shown that morality is not the world s. Kind of causal luck and causal luck. ) survey and explain difference between moral luck and luck main moves! Kim Ferzan, and a counterpart who moved in 1929 to Argentina on business cornerstone... Traits that would dispose her to resist tyranny they do not collide in this case exist whether or it... Argument that no one else will feel a sort of response has been at work too. Single approach to all can play a role in determining what we are surely inclined to say expatriate. Williams would have done in different clothing but this is what Williams would have behaved as! Writing that are particular instances of the conflict as one between intuition and fact that moral value trumps others... The responsibility for some action and the claim that his reasoning applies even to cases which. 1989, “ what is not, circumstantial luck has made a moral difference: luck does. Identified four kinds of moral luck is worth considering so that we ought care! Of regret a person, on Aristotle ’ s account, one can not be assessed! Daniel Statman ( 1993 ) “ Nagel, Williams has in mind moral! Will when discussing moral luck. ) certainly seem to be challenging not just thinking!
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