Ethics and Moral Luck

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  • Topic: Ethics, Truck, Truck driver
  • Pages : 3 (854 words )
  • Download(s) : 13
  • Published : January 27, 2014
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Text Preview we are naturally sociable or irritable, whether we find ourselves faced with particularly explicit or burdensome moral challenges, whether the arrows of our actions hit their targets—all constitute ways in which things we cannot control affect the moral quality of our lives. All, then, serve as examples of moral luck, which, taken as a group, make up one of the most philosophically perplexing and troubling features of ordinary moral experience. To accept the phenomena uncritically is to allow that one can be praised or blamed for what one cannot help. This goes against a very deep commitment most of us have to the idea that you should be morally judged only for what falls within the sphere of your will. Yet to reject the judgments and practices that seem unavoidably to lead to these phenomena would require a radical, and perhaps practically impossible, revision of ordinary moral evaluation. In this essay, I am concerned primarily with one type of moral luck, luck in “how things turn out.” A paradigmatic case is that of the truck driver (or, in Williams’s essay, “a lorry driver”) who accidentally runs over a child. Let us as- sume that the driver is guilty of a minor degree of negligence—he has not had his brakes inspected as recently as he ought—and that this negligence contributes to the accident. What makes this a case of moral luck, if it is a case, is that this truck driver has much more about which to feel guilty—he has much more moral weight on his shoulders, so to speak—than other drivers who, though equally negligent, had no children run across their paths. I discuss this example and variations of it at great length in this essay, and I occasionally refer to one or two other instances of moral luck. It should be noted at the outset, however, that the phenomenon in question is ubiquitous. Every day, people in laboratories, government offices, corporations, and universities sign off 113

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