Journal of Philosophical Investigations

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor of Philosophy Department, University of Qom

2 PhD Candidate of Philosophy of Ethics, University of Qom


Moral luck is an important issue in meta- ethics that because of its conflict with principle of control would face to challenge moral assessment, moral judgment and moral responsibility. Bernard Williams is the first philosopher who introduced the expression "moral luck" and tries to show that the contradiction between “moral” and “luck” is not so serious. Williams in contrast to Kantians and our intuitions doesn’t believe that morality is immune of luck and, against other values, is accessible to all people. Should moral value is accessible to all, according to his idea, it should be not only immune of luck but also supreme. Giving some examples, Williams by concepts justification, regret and retrospective , shows that morality hasn’t these characteristics. Dividing moral luck into four types: resultant, circumstantial, constitutive and causal, Thomas Nagel puts williams' moral luck under the first type and criticizes it. This study seeks to explain Bernard Williams’ viewpoint on moral luck. At first it clears types of moral luck , principle of control and its contradiction with moral luck. Then after explaining Williams’ account of moral luck criticizes it. Nagel’s criticisms and others show that although they accept the existence of moral luck and also their account is compatible to williams’ but they deny williams’ success in defending of this phenomenon. Finally, despite of all critiques, it seems that Williams’ failure in defense of moral luck didn’t decrease the importance of this matter, but made some stronger ideas were appeared by Thomas Nagel in this regard.


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