Against the Character Solution to the Problem of Moral Luck

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (1):105-118 (2020)
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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 praiseworthy and blameworthy in virtue of, and only in virtue of, their character traits. After explicating two versions of the Character Response, I argue that they both involve implausible accounts of moral responsibility and fail to provide a good solution to the problem of moral luck. I close by noting how proponents of moral luck can preserve a kernel of truth from the Character Response to explain away the intuition that the drivers are equally blameworthy.

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Robert J. Hartman
Ohio Northern University


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