Standard Article

Moral Luck

  1. David Enoch

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee185

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Enoch, D. 2013. Moral Luck. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

Abstract

If two drivers drive equally negligently, but only one of them causes serious harm or injury (say, because a pedestrian is present in the wrong time and place only in front of one of the drivers' cars), are they equally morally blameworthy? After all, they were equally negligent, and the difference between them was due to a factor that wasn't under their control, it was a matter of luck. Or is the driver who injured a pedestrian more blameworthy? After all, she injured an innocent pedestrian, and the other driver didn't. If two judges are equally willing to take a bribe, but only one takes it because only he was offered a bribe, are they equally morally blameworthy? After all, they were equally willing to act wrongly, and the fact that only one of them was offered a bribe was – as far as they were concerned – a matter of luck. Or is the judge who took a bribe more blameworthy than the one who didn't? After all, the latter did nothing wrong.

Keywords:

  • free will;
  • law;
  • moral luck;
  • normative ethics;
  • responsibility