Moral Luck

Topics: Morality, Causality, Judgment Pages: 2 (489 words) Published: October 3, 2013
Moral Luck Analysis
By Emmanuel Nwodo

Moral luck can be defined as a situation where a moral agent is either morally reprehensible or praised for an action, even though it is obvious that they did not have complete autonomous control over their actions or the consequences that came afterwards. In his essay on Moral Luck, Thomas Nagel puts forth an argument about why we praise or rebuke someone for moral reasons. For example acts or heroism, where someone saves another individual’s life, that person is seen as a hero, where as if another person causes harm to someone else, they are seen as bad and evil. Nagel argues that there is a lot more to mortality and that there are other factors that effect moral luck.  He defines moral luck as a situation "where a significant aspect of what someone does depends on factors beyond his control, yet we continue to treat him in that respect as an object of moral judgment". Over time people have continuously made judgments about others based on their actions, which presumably to them is a better way to judge an individual’s character rather than factoring in all the other things, that are beyond the person’s control. One factor to consider is the result of what a person was trying to do. A good person who tries to show some kind of selfless kindness but fails isn’t praised for his good intentions no matter how selfless or sincere they might have been. Where as a bad person who tries to kill someone or cause harm to him or her but fails is met with a lesser punishment. Therefore their intent isn’t what is being judged but it is their acts that are being judged. Thomas Nagel illustrates four ways of how moral assessment is influenced by moral luck. The first one is constructive luck, which he defines as "the kind of person you are, where this is not just a question of what you deliberately do, but your inclinations, capacities, and temperament." which clearly states that the question to be asked is not what action you...
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