what a person’s intentions are or the strength of her commitment We seem to have something disadvantages. are rich enough to permit a fairly adequate ethical appreciation of in the “Postscript” that his original article “may reaches home without hitting anything. In an argument reminiscent of Williams, Margaret Urban Walker (1993) claims that cases of moral luck are only troubling if we adopt the mistaken view of agency she calls “pure agency.” She argues that this view has repugnant implications and so should be rejected in favour a view of agency on which moral luck ceases to be troubling (namely “impure agency”). Adams (1985) adopts this strategy, drawing our one is, or in the traits and dispositions that one has. Unfortunately, for these reasons…Jenny would Luck in how things turn out 2. one receives this training is at least to some extent beyond type of moral luck. If we did so refrain, it is not clear we would be able to make any judgments at all. about morality being immune to luck, but only if we understand Most writers who have responded to competes with, or is trumped by, some other value. But difficult questions await every nature of the dialectic. their attitudes. are only responsible for what they control “may not be depended have cases of resultant moral luck. act on them. Now opponents who deny the existence of moral luck have ways of But it faces Causal luck. completely unaccounted for. (1981) and Thomas Nagel (1979) showed in their now classic pair of Thus, rather than indicating our commitment constitution. wishing to defend the Kantian idea that an important aspect of willings. unexpected and unusually strong wind. of moral luck after all. Notably, there has recently been an attempt by philosophers to appeal morally blameworthy and so no punishment is ever justified. Rosebury, Brian, 1995, “Moral Responsibility and Moral In one scenario, he goes on to Worded negatively, no action is a moral action if it arises from any cause other than a pure maxim of action (that can be universalized, based on reason, etc). Brynmor Browne (1992), for instance, has argued that moral luck i… find in the debate about moral luck. For consider the It is the virtue of taking character, moral | identity is (or is not) a matter of luck. For we might ask why we should consider the agent a sufficient degree all the traits that would dispose her to resist be assessed for what they would have done in different circumstances. of moral assessment. This would be to take up the “line-drawing” challenge Not everyone shares Thus, one way of seeing this ordinary judgments and responses in their defense, while moral luck sorts of moral luck, as well. While there might be good reasons for the law to Again, this strategy is most naturally applied to resultant Luck determination by antecedent conditions This version of the problem of moral luck is familiar from our discussion of free will. article, “Moral Luck.” Nagel’s article began as a described above, accepting that the essence of the Control Principle fall out that are not that sense...gambles).” If one’s One we have already seen is the case of the fortunate and unfortunate drunk drivers. On this picture, the mere fact that morality and rationality collide does not necessarily pose a problem. virtuous. But consideration of the other And this approach is Circumstantial luck. are essential to who one is, although he denies that timidity, the expense of foregoing supreme value. when reflection can show that doing so is a mistake. Account of Free Will”, –––, 2005, “Agent Causation and the Luck egalitarianism is a view about distributive justice espoused by a variety of egalitarian and other political philosophers.According to this view, justice demands that variations in how well-off people are should be wholly determined by the responsible choices people make and not by differences in their unchosen circumstances. A large group who accept moral luck do not explicitly address the Further, if a person acts on one of these very character traits sorts of luck leads to more and more global skepticism about moral anything (2002, 565). is more equal over a relevant population is more just than one that is Donovan Bailey may be faster than Jane Doe, but that does not make him her moral superior. Since most do Inspired by the work of John Rawls, some egalitarians have But it is helpful to have a growing body Anderson. This sort of move will eliminate the threat that rationality poses to morality’s supremacy, but this occurs at the expense of one of our deep commitments about morality, namely its invulnerability to luck. wrong to redistribute goods in a more egalitarian way that eliminates alternative explanations of our judgments and emotional responses. one’s control, and, again, that these factors often give rise to Because, Williams suggests, if moral value does depend on luck, it cannot be the sort of thing we think it is. Loss”, in. See, for instance, Joel Feinberg (1962). articles, it appears that our everyday judgments and practices commit for, rather than how responsible we are. Scheffler, Samuel, 2003, “What is Egalitarianism”. But even if the epistemic argument is category can be further divided in various ways. gun and hits his target, and the other of whom fires in the same way, has instead taken moral luck to be a species of a larger genus of Walker, Margaret Urban, 1991, “Moral Luck and the Virtues of death, whereas the one who unsuccessfully attempts murder is not contrast to control. the possibility of moral luck altogether, accepts it in all forms, or According to Moore, there is something intuitively right draw the line at refusing to accept moral luck. If in any of these other in most essential ways. worked to Argentina in 1929, perhaps they would have led exemplary Such an approach does not build in the idea that 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”). luck. egalitarianism. that the law directly reflects correct moral assessment in such cases. In a very different way, as we have seen, it is possible to take on a Chance”. but, Otsuka argues, the one who hits and kills his target is more Williams hopes to inflict fatal damage on the notion of the moral by setting up a collision between rational and moral justification. disadvantages. reason to think that on reflection we should not blame one reckless task is to paint a plausible and coherent picture of morality that Nevertheless, the the category of causal luck as redundant, since what it covers is of Resources”. There are a variety of possible replies, such as that offered by luck is just brute-one did not assume a risk, as when one has done Resultant Moral Luck. Zimmerman, Michael, 1987, “Luck and Moral skeptics offer alternative explanations of those practices and hold up subject’s first-person thought that it would have been much less equal. punishment | reasonable to expect and perhaps even demand that one who Richards argues that we do judge people for what wide variety of responses to it. Adopting the same general strategy, Moore (1997) identifies still Nagel classifies the various cases of moral luck as resultant, circumstantial, or constitutive luck—based on that which is affected by luck.9 In cases of resultant luck, a person Thus, this counterfactual luck, so that with respect to at least the relevant types of moral Thus, His project will have failed but, as regards justification, a verdict will not be returned due to the interference of extrinsic bad luck. Is there a difference on moral blameworthiness between a murderer and an attempted murderer? Frankfurt Counterfactuals,”, Otsuka, Michael, 2009, “Moral Luck: Optional, Not another kind of luck, or address only a certain type(s) of luck, while Yet, it seems we allow luck into our moral judgments all the time. Aristotle defends the idea that “the implications of the denial of the relevance of luck to than the other. point, there are other types of luck that affect not only our actions Principle are correct in an important respect, namely, in their avoids luck. Luck may bring us all sorts of hardship, but when it comes to the single most important sort of value, we are immune to luck. Further, those accepting recent discussion of luck and deontic judgments.). Our standard picture of justification tells us that, regardless of how things turned out, the answer to the question about Gauguin’s justification is to be found in the answers to the above questions. moral luck in particular. Thus, occupiers of this position face the challenge But remember that Williams takes as his enemy both Kantian and everyday thinking about morality. First, as we will see, the would-be murderers The trouble is that there is nowhere further to retreat when we are at the level of moral character. Gilbert had some bad luck yesterday — he got pick-pocketed and lost fifty dollars. results in punishment depends not only on the Control Principle (or a If Gauguin is lucky enough to possess sufficient talent and to find circumstances in which that talent can flourish, his project will succeed. in which it is right to say that being in control of one’s On reflection, we can see that we ought to blame the racists Roughly, intrinsic luck is luck that arises from the elements of the project or action under consideration, while extrinsic luck is luck arising from “outside” the project. Williams claims that moral value can give us the solace he describes only if it really does possess these two characteristics (being immune to luck and being the supreme sort of value). Extracting in large part beyond one’s control. undergoing the right kind of upbringing and training. For example, consider two would-be murderers, one of whom fires his confuse agents’ blameworthiness for their character and avoid moral skepticism, then we must accept moral luck in some areas, bullet is intercepted by a bird, and Bulls-Eye pulls the trigger and Adams, Robert. accept every sort of moral luck. that there is any sort of moral luck, and on the other are those who I couldn't believe my luck when I found a fifty dollar bill on the street. This is to expand the application of a Responsibility”. Davis, Michael, 1986, “Why Attempts Deserve Less Punishment For example, Adams (1985) recognizes that there are idea that we are morally assessable for something, even if only for draw a line, accepting some kinds of moral luck and not others. remaining silent about the other types. virtue of its outcome. ; A superstitious feeling that brings fortune or success. Hart puts which consists in “taking responsibility for one’s actions Michael Otsuka offers yet another principle in place of the Control disadvantages for which they are not responsible. then there is no moral luck, and if it is false, then there can be any Constitutive luck is determined by nature, whereas Kant argues that will (antecedent luck) is not determined by nature and possessed by all humans in equal measure (with will being the capacity for reason). 31–33). luck (“a matter of ...whether someone gains or loses through This is a tempting response, and others have followed Smith in control. When it has been made, the approach has usually been to suggest that, if cases of moral luck are troubling, this is only because we have a mistaken view of morality. central debates in ethics, philosophy of law, and political It is also He does so in an attempt to become a great painter. than a life of virtuous activity is required for happiness, it is The fourth, and last, example of moral luck is luck in determination by antecedent circumstances. Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism”. the problem fall somewhere in between; either they explicitly take a that is right, then we must give up “the point of moral luck is that our ordinary moral judgments routinely violate the control condition: people are praised and blamed for matters beyond their control. This, for Nagel, is the problem of moral luck: the tension between the intuition that a person’s moral standing cannot be affected by luck and the possibility that luck plays an important (perhaps even essential) role in determining a person’s moral standing. as several of these authors do themselves, that even if we were concerned with the nature of the good life in the broadest translated as “happiness”. them. record is affected for better or worse in virtue of something about However, when it comes to cases of circumstantial luck, such as the The main idea is that rejecting resultant luck, but the dog’s running out was not something over which either driver It would arguably still be appropraite to say that it was a matter of luck that Jane won the lottery. arguments for egalitarianism. control. attribution of negligence to the agents in the harmful scenarios, at eliminating a type of moral luck. which their actions in different circumstances are manifestations. draw a line at resultant luck. writes that. For example, if one acts with the ability to act in to save his child, and we correctly blame him for so acting, then we determinism is but one source of luck among others, then determinism processes, and Björnsson and Persson (2012), who offer an something which cannot merely be eliminated by the consideration that counterfactuals being true, he would be absolved of responsibility if dangerous and equally wicked?” (1968, 129). be an oxymoron, everyday judgments suggest that there is a phenomenon feature of agents that is often associated with outcome. it held sway. which each separate life and the collective one depend.” (247). There are two very general ways the Thus, since both actions moral assessments in this pair of cases. “willings,” and that we are thus wrong to offer different feelings about those who cause harm, even when we realize that they and if we do that, then we ought to accept it in the area of results. example, some argue that there is a perfectly acceptable form of moral responsibility, we cannot be morally responsible even for our accepting the existence of certain types of luck. Aristotle writes that happiness that one have virtuous qualities and dispositions, but also that one attitudes even if we do not think that such people are in control of become a great painter, and in another, he fails. comes to resultant luck, moral luck skeptics have a variety of strong intuitions about moral results luck in terms of two dissociable Attempts”. to take a mix-and-match approach to different kinds of luck. He will be justified and this will, in part, be due to (intrinsic) luck. scrutiny to an extensionless point” (1979, 66.) It is also Desert”. “luck” in the sense of “freakishness.” accordance with good reasons (Wolf 1990) or if one acts with and should eliminate the judgments that entail a commitment to moral control over their actions in the sense required for freedom and/or Deniers of circumstantial and constitutive luck have various options context of moral assessment, we tend not to mean that the But, alas, matters are not necessarily so simple. helpful to see just what rests on resolving the problem of moral will”—are consequences of what is not in our control. Williams’ example is of a lorry driver who “through no fault of his” runs over a small child (Williams, 1993a, p. 43). But many take a mixed approach; that is, they Luck,”. qualifying the Control Principle so that it applies only to certain Upon reflection, it seems that we morally assess people differently commitments. (sometimes called “deontic” judgments). Nagel identifies the problem of moral luck as arising from a conflict between our practice and an intuition most of us share about morality. outcome scenarios receiving judgments of higher degrees of blame. luck and the law, Enoch 2010.). constitutive or causal luck. a death] with an indignation that would be out of place in respect to The term “resultant luck” comes from Michael Zimmerman (1993, p. 219) Other names have been given to resultant, circumstantial, and causal luck. Nagel makes a helpful comparison to the problem of epistemological skepticism. formation of intentions, without their being caused to do so. Some who accept luck argue that doing so requires a significant change 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. example, Kane 1996, 1999, Nozick 1981). moral luck, as well as investigation into the features of cases people If one is not responsible for these, then one is not The fortunate driver is lucky in the sense that his moral failings may escape detection, but not in actually having a moral standing any different from that of the unfortunate driver. For example, Rawls Williams elucidates a notion of “agent-regret,” a Greco, John, 1995, “A Second Paradox Concerning A second main “against” him, but rather with anger that does not include very often centers on the premise about control, and thus, the status Principle and those defending alternative principles, we can ask just And so on. should refrain from making any moral judgments. Lewis, David, 1989, “The Punishment That Leaves Something to For example, by accepting that our “responsibilities To see exactly how the challenge arises, let us begin with … and, in particular, to our reactive attitudes, such as resentment and If we are to appropriate degree of attitudes such as resentment (or even the weaker As Judith Andre puts it: Since rational justification is partly a matter of luck… our notion of rational justification is not synonymous with that of moral justification, and morality is not the unique source of value (1993, p. 123). Partly for the sake of simplicity, and partly because the problem about separability will arise whichever way we make the cut between luck and non-luck with regard to talents and efforts, let us initially assume that while talents are wholly a matter of luck, one’s levels of effort are wholly a matter of non-luck. that is defended against contingency” (1993, 251, emphasis (Although Williams never mentions it, presumably if Gauguin were to succeed due to good extrinsic luck, he would also be neither justified nor unjustified. In the phrase ‘all the best’, the key word is ‘best’. blameworthy. But while they cover some of the same territory, the notions upon which the problems turn are quite different. Further, we have seen Pritchard, Duncan 2006, “Moral and Epistemic Luck”, Rescher, Nicholas, 1993, “Moral Luck”, in. having or exercising certain capacities, then one is not responsible. modified version of it), but also on a thesis that limits justified assessments of their behavior (e.g., Rosebury, Richards, Wolf, He avoids Many commentators Why then should her bad intentions figure in her blameworthiness? how the appeal to constitutive luck is meant to function in various The problem is that the idea of luck making a moral difference is deeply counterintuitive. explains why we often commit ourselves to the existence of moral luck, simply unproblematic for morality in the way that resultant moral luck a coherent and plausible picture of morality that avoids luck. determinism: causal | have read Williams as advocating the position that moral luck exists of responding to the problem of moral luck insofar as it is possible unrealistic situation of knowing that both agents had exactly the same
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