Semantic and Moral Luck


Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas

Circuito Mario de la Cueva s/n

Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán

Mexico DF 04000


The similarities between the philosophical debates surrounding assessment sensitivity and moral luck run so deep that one can easily adapt almost any argument from one debate, change some terms, adapt the examples, and end up with an argument relevant to the other. This article takes Brian Rosebury's strategy for resisting moral luck in “Moral Responsibility and ‘Moral Luck' ” (1995) and turns it into a strategy for resisting assessment sensitivity. The article shows that one of Bernard Williams's examples motivating moral luck is very similar to one of the examples John MacFarlane uses to motivate the assessment sensitivity of epistemic modals, and in particular the assessment sensitivity of the auxiliary verb “might.” This means that, if Rosebury is right and we do not actually need moral luck to explain Williams's example, we may not need assessment sensitivity to account for the semantic behaviour of the epistemic modal verb “might” either.