Moral Luck

Edited by Nick Smyth (Fordham University, Fordham University)
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  1. added 2019-07-18
    A Defense of the Luck Pincer: Why Luck (Still) Undermines Moral Responsibility.Gregg D. Caruso - 2019 - Journel of Information Ethic 28 (1):51-72.
    In the paper, I defend the skeptical view that no one is ever morally responsible in the basic desert sense since luck universally undermines responsibility-level control. I begin in Section 1 by defining a number of different varieties of luck and examining their relevance to moral responsibility. I then turn, in Section 2, to outlining and defending what I consider to be the best argument for the skeptical view--the luck pincer (Levy 2011). I conclude in Section 3 by addressing Robert (...)
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  2. added 2019-06-13
    Stoic Lessons in Liberation: Epictetus as Educator.William O. Stephens - manuscript
    My project examines the pedagogical approach of the Stoic Epictetus by focusing on seven vital lessons he imparts. This study will deepen our understanding of his vocation as a Stoic educator striving to free his students from the fears and foolishness that hold happiness hostage. These lessons are (1) how freedom, integrity, self-respect, and happiness interrelate; (2) real versus fake tragedy and real versus fake heroism; (3) the instructive roles that various animals play in Stoic education; (4) athleticism, sport, and (...)
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  3. added 2019-05-30
    Moral Luck and Deviant Causation.Sara Bernstein - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):151-161.
    This paper discusses a puzzling tension in attributions of moral responsibility in cases of resultant moral luck: we seem to hold agents fully morally responsible for unlucky outcomes, but less-than-fully-responsible for unlucky outcomes brought about differently than intended. This tension cannot be easily discharged or explained, but it does shed light on a famous puzzle about causation and responsibility, the Thirsty Traveler.
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  4. added 2019-05-16
    Kant Does Not Deny Resultant Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):136-150.
    It is almost unanimously accepted that Kant denies resultant moral luck—that is, he denies that the lucky consequence of a person’s action can affect how much praise or blame she deserves. Philosophers often point to the famous good will passage at the beginning of the Groundwork to justify this claim. I argue, however, that this passage does not support Kant’s denial of resultant moral luck. Subsequently, I argue that Kant allows agents to be morally responsible for certain kinds of lucky (...)
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  5. added 2019-04-27
    On Luck, the Attribute.Paul Bali - manuscript
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  6. added 2019-02-12
    Against the Character Solution to the Problem of Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
    One way to frame the problem of moral luck is as a contradiction in our ordinary ideas about moral responsibility. In the case of two identical reckless drivers where one kills a pedestrian and the other does not, we tend to intuit that they are and are not equally blameworthy. The Character Response sorts these intuitions in part by providing an account of moral responsibility: the drivers must be equally blameworthy, because they have identical character traits and people are originally (...)
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  7. added 2019-01-26
    You Oughta Know: A Defence of Obligations to Learn.Teresa Bruno-Niño & Preston J. Werner - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-11.
    Most of us spend a significant portion of our lives learning, practising, and performing a wide range of skills. Many of us also have a great amount of control over which skills we learn and develop. From choices as significant as career pursuits to those as minor as how we spend our weeknight leisure time, we exercise a great amount of agency over what we know and what we can do. In this paper we argue, using a framework first developed (...)
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  8. added 2019-01-22
    Agatheology and Naturalisation of the Discourse on Evil.Janusz Salamon - 2017 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 78 (4-5):469-484.
    This article argues that the existence of horrendous evil calls into question not just the plausibility of the most popular theodicies on offer, notably sceptical theism, but the coherence of any agatheology–that is, any theology which identifies God or the ultimate reality with the ultimate good or with a maximally good being. The article contends that the only way an agatheologian can ‘save the face of God’ after Auschwitz and Kolyma is by endorsing a non-interventionist interpretation of the Divine providence (...)
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  9. added 2018-11-12
    No Luck for Moral Luck.Markus Kneer & Edouard Machery - 2019 - Cognition 182:331-348.
    Moral philosophers and psychologists often assume that people judge morally lucky and morally unlucky agents differently, an assumption that stands at the heart of the Puzzle of Moral Luck. We examine whether the asymmetry is found for reflective intuitions regarding wrongness, blame, permissibility, and punishment judg- ments, whether people’s concrete, case-based judgments align with their explicit, abstract principles regarding moral luck, and what psychological mechanisms might drive the effect. Our experiments produce three findings: First, in within-subjects experiments favorable to reflective (...)
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  10. added 2018-10-17
    Indirectly Free Actions, Libertarianism, and Resultant Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    Martin Luther affirms his theological position by saying “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Supposing that Luther’s claim is true, he lacks alternative possibilities at the moment of choice. Even so, many libertarians have the intuition that he is morally responsible for his action. One way to make sense of this intuition is to assert that Luther’s action is indirectly free, because his action inherits its freedom and moral responsibility from earlier actions when he had alternative possibilities and (...)
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  11. added 2018-09-23
    Free Will, Art and Morality.Paul Russell - 2008 - The Journal of Ethics 12 (3-4):307 - 325.
    The discussion in this paper begins with some observations regarding a number of structural similarities between art and morality as it involves human agency. On the basis of these observations we may ask whether or not incompatibilist worries about free will are relevant to both art and morality. One approach is to claim that libertarian free will is essential to our evaluations of merit and desert in both spheres. An alternative approach, is to claim that free will is required only (...)
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  12. added 2018-09-15
    Free Will Pessimism.Paul Russell - 2017 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Volume 4. New York, NY, USA: pp. 93-120..
    The immediate aim of this paper is to articulate the essential features of an alternative compatibilist position, one that is responsive to sources of resistance to the compatibilist program based on considerations of fate and luck. The approach taken relies on distinguishing carefully between issues of skepticism and pessimism as they arise in this context. A compatibilism that is properly responsive to concerns about fate and luck is committed to what I describe as free will pessimism, which is to be (...)
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  13. added 2018-09-10
    Moral Luck and the Unfairness of Morality.Robert J. Hartman - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Moral luck occurs when factors beyond an agent’s control positively affect how much praise or blame she deserves. Kinds of moral luck are differentiated by the source of lack of control such as the results of her actions, the circumstances in which she finds herself, and the way in which she is constituted. Many philosophers accept the existence of some of these kinds of moral luck but not others, because, in their view, the existence of only some of them would (...)
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  14. added 2018-08-20
    Bernard Williams on Regarding One's Own Action Purely Externally.Jake Wojtowicz - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (1):49-66.
    I explore what BernardWilliams means by regarding one’s action ‘purely externally, as one might regard anyone else’s action’, and how it links to regret and agent-regret. I suggest some ways that we might understand the external view: as a failure to recognize what one has done, in terms of Williams’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic luck, and as akin to Thomas Nagel’s distinction between an internal and external view. I argue that none of these captures what Williams was getting at (...)
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  15. added 2018-06-26
    When Do Circumstances Excuse? Moral Prejudices and Beliefs About the True Self Drive Preferences for Agency-Minimizing Explanations.Simon Cullen - 2018 - Cognition 180:165-181.
    When explaining human actions, people usually focus on a small subset of potential causes. What leads us to prefer certain explanations for valenced actions over others? The present studies indicate that our moral attitudes often predict our explanatory preferences far better than our beliefs about how causally sensitive actions are to features of the actor's environment. Study 1 found that high-prejudice participants were much more likely to endorse non-agential explanations of an erotic same-sex encounter, such as that one of the (...)
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  16. added 2018-06-12
    Luck in Aristotle's Physics and Ethics.Monte Johnson - 2015 - In Devin Henry & K. Nielson (eds.), Bridging the Gap between Aristotle's Science and Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 254-275.
    I discuss how Aristotle’s formulation of the problem of moral luck relates to his natural philosophy. I review well-known passages from Nicomachean Ethics I/X and Eudemian Ethics I/VII and Physics II, but in the main focus on EE VII 14 (= VIII 2). I argue that Aristotle’s position there (rejecting the elimination of luck, but reducing luck so far as possible to incidental natural and intelligent causes) is not only consistent with his treatment of luck in Physics II, but is (...)
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  17. added 2018-05-09
    Constitutive Moral Luck and Strawson's Argument for the Impossibility of Moral Responsibility.Robert J. Hartman - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (2):165-183.
    Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument is that because self-creation is required to be truly morally responsible and self-creation is impossible, it is impossible to be truly morally responsible for anything. I contend that the Basic Argument is unpersuasive and unsound. First, I argue that the moral luck debate shows that the self-creation requirement appears to be contradicted and supported by various parts of our commonsense ideas about moral responsibility, and that this ambivalence undermines the only reason that Strawson gives for the (...)
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  18. added 2018-04-19
    Does Luck Exclude Knowledge or Certainty?Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - forthcoming - Synthese.
    A popular account of luck, with a firm basis in common sense, holds that a necessary condition for an event to be lucky, is that it was suitably improbable. It has recently been proposed that this improbability condition is best understood in epistemic terms. Two different versions of this proposal have been advanced. According to my own proposal (Steglich-Petersen 2010), whether an event is lucky for some agent depends on whether the agent was in a position to know that the (...)
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  19. added 2018-02-02
    Legal Luck.Ori Herstein - forthcoming - In Rutledge Companion to the Philosophy of Luck. Rutledge.
    Explaining the notion of legal luck and exploring its justification. Focusing on how legal luck relates to moral luck, legal causation and negligence, and to civil and criminal liability.
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  20. added 2018-01-01
    Lucky Achievement: Virtue Epistemology on the Value of Knowledge.Tsung‐Hsing Ho - 2018 - Ratio 31 (3):303-311.
    Virtue epistemology argues that knowledge is more valuable than Gettierized belief because knowledge is an achievement, but Gettierized belief is not. The key premise in the achievement argument is that achievement is apt (successful because competent) and Gettierized belief is inapt (successful because lucky). I first argue that the intuition behind the achievement argument is based wrongly on the fact that ‘being successful because lucky’ implicates ‘being not competent enough’. I then offer an argument from moral luck to argue that (...)
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  21. added 2017-10-18
    Luck as Risk.Fernando Broncano-Berrocal - forthcoming - In Ian M. Church & Robert J. Hartman (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Luck. Routledge.
    The aim of this paper is to explore the hypothesis that luck is a risk-involving phenomenon. I start by explaining why this hypothesis is prima facie plausible in view of the parallelisms between luck and risk. I then distinguish three ways to spell it out: in probabilistic terms, in modal terms, and in terms of lack of control. Before evaluating the resulting accounts, I explain how the idea that luck involves risk is compatible with the fact that risk concerns unwanted (...)
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  22. added 2017-10-12
    Rik Peels, Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology. [REVIEW]Robert J. Hartman - 2018 - Ethics 128 (3):646-651.
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  23. added 2017-09-04
    Agent-Regret and the Social Practice of Moral Luck.Jordan MacKenzie - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (1):95-117.
    Agent-regret seems to give rise to a philosophical puzzle. If we grant that we are not morally responsible for consequences outside our control, then agent-regret—which involves self-reproach and a desire to make amends for consequences outside one’s control—appears rationally indefensible. But despite its apparent indefensibility, agent-regret still seems like a reasonable response to bad moral luck. I argue here that the puzzle can be resolved if we appreciate the role that agent-regret plays in a larger social practice that helps us (...)
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  24. added 2016-12-12
    Trying to Make Sense of Criminal Attempts. [REVIEW]Ken Levy - 2016 - Jurisprudence 7 (3):656-664.
    Issues include attempts generally; the problem of outcome luck; the impossibility defense; physical movement and intent; and reckless attempts, attempted rape, and attempted theft. In the final section, I offer a hypothetical that challenges Prof. Donnelly-Lazarov's theory.
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  25. added 2016-12-08
    Common-Sense Virtue Ethics and Moral Luck.Nafsika Athanassoulis - 2005 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (3):265-276.
    Moral luck poses a problem for out conception of responsibility because it highlights a tension between morality and lack of control. Michael Slote’s common-sense virtue ethics claims to avoid this problem. However there are a number of objections to this claim. Firstly, it is not clear that Slote fully appreciates the problem posed by moral luck. Secondly, Slote’s move from the moral to the ethical is problematic. Thirdly it is not clear why we should want to abandon judgements of moral (...)
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  26. added 2016-11-22
    Accepting Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2019 - In Ian M. Church & Robert J. Hartman (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Luck. New York: Routledge.
    I argue that certain kinds of luck can partially determine an agent’s praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. To make this view clearer, consider some examples. Two identical agents drive recklessly around a curb, and one but not the other kills a pedestrian. Two identical corrupt judges would freely take a bribe if one were offered. Only one judge is offered a bribe, and so only one judge takes a bribe. Put in terms of these examples, I argue that the killer driver and (...)
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  27. added 2016-11-19
    Salience, Imagination, and Moral Luck.Nathan Stout - 2017 - Philosophical Papers 46 (2):297-313.
    One key desideratum of a theory of blame is that it be able to explain why we typically have differing blaming responses in cases involving significant degrees of luck. T.M. Scanlon has proposed a relational account of blame, and he has argued that his account succeeds in this regard and that this success makes his view preferable to reactive attitude accounts of blame. In this paper, I aim to show that Scanlon's view is open to a different kind of luck-based (...)
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  28. added 2016-04-10
    Against Luck-Free Moral Responsibility.Robert J. Hartman - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2845-2865.
    Every account of moral responsibility has conditions that distinguish between the consequences, actions, or traits that warrant praise or blame and those that do not. One intuitive condition is that praiseworthiness and blameworthiness cannot be affected by luck, that is, by factors beyond the agent’s control. Several philosophers build their accounts of moral responsibility on this luck-free condition, and we may call their views Luck-Free Moral Responsibility (LFMR). I offer moral and metaphysical arguments against LFMR. First, I maintain that considerations (...)
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  29. added 2016-03-04
    Utilitarian Moral Virtue, Admiration, and Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (1):77-95.
    Every tenable ethical theory must have an account of moral virtue and vice. Julia Driver has performed a great service for utilitarians by developing a utilitarian account of moral virtue that complements a broader act-based utilitarian ethical theory. In her view, a moral virtue is a psychological disposition that systematically produces good states of affairs in a particular possible world. My goal is to construct a more plausible version of Driver’s account that nevertheless maintains its basic integrity. I aim to (...)
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  30. added 2015-09-23
    Causal Proportions and Moral Responsibility.Sara Bernstein - 2017 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Volume 4. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 165-182.
    This paper poses an original puzzle about the relationship between causation and moral responsibility called The Moral Difference Puzzle. Using the puzzle, the paper argues for three related ideas: (1) the existence of a new sort of moral luck; (2) an intractable conflict between the causal concepts used in moral assessment; and (3) inability of leading theories of causation to capture the sorts of causal differences that matter for moral evaluation of agents’ causal contributions to outcomes.
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  31. added 2015-02-21
    On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life.Berit Brogaard & Barry Smith - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):443-458.
    A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question?a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face ths proposal. One concerns responsiblity: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more (...)
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  32. added 2014-08-26
    Consequentializing Moral Responsibility.Friderik Klampfer - 2014 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy (40):121-150.
    In the paper, I try to cast some doubt on traditional attempts to define, or explicate, moral responsibility in terms of deserved praise and blame. Desert-based accounts of moral responsibility, though no doubt more faithful to our ordinary notion of moral responsibility, tend to run into trouble in the face of challenges posed by a deterministic picture of the world on the one hand and the impact of moral luck on human action on the other. Besides, grounding responsibility in desert (...)
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  33. added 2014-04-07
    How to Apply Molinism to the Theological Problem of Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2014 - Faith and Philosophy 31 (1):68-90.
    The problem of moral luck is that a general fact about luck and an intuitive moral principle jointly imply the following skeptical conclusion: human beings are morally responsible for at most a tiny fraction of each action. This skeptical conclusion threatens to undermine the claim that human beings deserve their respective eternal reward and punishment. But even if this restriction on moral responsibility is compatible with the doctrine of the final judgment, the quality of one’s afterlife within heaven or hell (...)
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  34. added 2014-04-02
    Morally Embedded Selves and Embedded Compatibilism.Guy Pinku - 2012 - Philosophica 85:67-89.
    The principal argument suggested here is that we are all morally embedded selves: We have no control over the abilities that make us moral agents nor can we control the degree to which we have these abilities; in other words, we are not responsible for our good or bad qualities as moral agents. This, I believe, calls for the adoption of embedded compatibilism (EC). According to EC, people have control over their conduct; this control, however, is embedded within prerequisites, which (...)
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  35. added 2014-03-24
    Moral Luck, Control, and the Bases of Desert.David W. Concepcion - 2002 - Journal of Value Inquiry 36 (4):455-461.
    If we want to see justice done with regard to responsibility, then we must either (i) allow that people are never morally responsible, (iia) show that luck is not ubiquitous or at least that (iib) ubiquitous luck is not moral, or (iii) show that ascriptions of responsibility can retain justice despite the omnipresence of luck. This paper defends (iii); ascriptions of responsibility can be just even though luck is ubiquitous.
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  36. added 2014-02-20
    Moral Luck and the Condition of Control.Monica Wong Link - 2013 - Southwest Philosophy Review 29 (1):99-106.
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  37. added 2014-01-27
    A Modal Solution to the Problem of Moral Luck.Rik Peels - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (1):73-88.
    In this article I provide and defend a solution to the problem of moral luck. The problem of moral luck is that there is a set of three theses about luck and moral blameworthiness each of which is at least prima facie plausible, but that, it seems, cannot all be true. The theses are that (1) one cannot be blamed for what happens beyond one’s control, (2) that which is due to luck is beyond one’s control, and (3) we rightly (...)
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  38. added 2013-09-09
    First Acts, Last Acts, and Abandonment.David O. Brink - 2013 - Legal Theory 19 (2):114-123.
    This contribution reconstructs and assesses Gideon Yaffe’s claims in his book Attempts about what constitutes an attempt, what can count as evidence that an attempt has been made, whether abandonment is a genuine defense, and whether attempts should be punished less severely than completed crimes. I contrast Yaffe’s account of being motivated by an intention and the completion of an attempt in terms of the truth of the completion counterfactual with an alternative picture of attempts as temporally extended decision trees (...)
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  39. added 2013-09-05
    Moral Distress in Healthcare.Judith Andre - 2002 - Bioethics Forum 18 (1-2):44-46.
    Moral distress is the sense that one must do, or cooperate in, what is wrong. It is paradigmatically faced by nurses, but it is almost a universal occupational hazard.
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  40. added 2013-02-21
    Expecting Bad Luck.Lisa Tessman - 2009 - Hypatia 24 (1):9-28.
    This paper draws on Claudia Card’s discussions of moral luck to consider the complicated moral life of people—described as pessimists—who accept the heavy knowledge of the predictability of the bad moral luck of oppression. The potential threat to ethics posed by this knowledge can be overcome by the pessimist whose resistance to oppression, even in the absence of hope, expresses a sense of still having a ‘‘claim’’ on flourishing despite its unattainability under oppression.
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  41. added 2012-09-10
    Distributive Luck.Carl Knight - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):541-559.
    This article explores the Rawlsian goal of ensuring that distributions are not influenced by the morally arbitrary. It does so by bringing discussions of distributive justice into contact with the debate over moral luck initiated by Williams and Nagel. Rawls’ own justice as fairness appears to be incompatible with the arbitrariness commitment, as it creates some equalities arbitrarily. A major rival, Dworkin’s version of brute luck egalitarianism, aims to be continuous with ordinary ethics, and so is (a) sensitive to non-philosophical (...)
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  42. added 2008-12-31
    Smith on Moral Sentiment and Moral Luck.Paul Russell - 1999 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 16 (1):37 - 58.
    Smith's views on moral luck have attracted little attention in the relevant contemporary literature on this subject.* More surprising, perhaps, the material in the secondary literature directly concerned with Smith's moral philosophy is rather thin on this aspect of his thought. In this paper my particular concern is to provide an interpretation and critical assessment of Smith on moral luck. I begin with a description of the basic features of Smith's position; then I criticize two particularly important claims that are (...)
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