Relation-Regret and Associative Luck: On Rationally Regretting What Another Has Done

In Andras Szigeti & Talbert Matthew (eds.), Agency, Fate and Luck: Themes from Bernard Williams. Oxford University Press. pp. 233-264 (2022)
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I argue that the phenomenon underlying Bernard Williams’ (1976) “agent-regret” is considerably broader than appreciated by Williams and others. Agent-regret— an anguished response that agents have for harms they have caused, even if faultlessly— I maintain, is a species of a more general response to harms that need not be one’s fault, but which nonetheless impact one’s practical identity in a special way. This broader genus includes as a species what I call “relation-regret”, a pained response to harm caused by a person to whom one is intimately related, as a co-member of a group partly constitutive of one’s practical identity (e.g. one’s family). After providing an account of the moral psychology of relation-regret, I attend to its normative significance, proposing in particular that acceptance of relation-regret provides us with reasons for accepting a novel form of moral luck, namely associative luck: the luck of being vulnerable to responsibility-responses in virtue of one’s attachments to others, despite one’s personal faultlessness.

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Daniel Telech
Lund University


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