Accepting Moral Luck

In Ian M. Church & Robert J. Hartman (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Luck. New York: Routledge (2019)
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Abstract

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 bribe taker are more blameworthy than their counterparts. I offer three arguments for that view, and, in doing so, I exemplify a general way to advance the moral luck debate. First, I argue against an account of moral responsibility that implies that the judges are equally blameworthy. Second, I argue that the killer driver is more blameworthy than the merely reckless driver. Third, I locate an alternative sense in which the agents in each case pair are morally on par.

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Robert J. Hartman
Ohio Northern University

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