Good or Lucky?

I find issues of luck in philosophy particularly interesting. There are cases of moral luck, epistemic luck, and even religious luck (see descriptions in comments). I feel strongly that luck eliminates the lucky person from deserving praise or blame, though many do not. As such, I think that this guy only deserves at most 3/4 credit for correctly picking the Final Four (his bracket).

Better to be good then lucky, though when it comes to March Madness I am sadly neither.

1 comment:

jon said...

Moral Luck: Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams are the most famous people putting forth this problem. It comes in several varieties.
1. Constitutive luck deals with one's character or temperment. A good deal of who or what we become does not depend on us. In this way we are lucky or unlucky. The question here is do we deserve praise or blame for such things?
2. Circumstantial luck deals with what kind of circumstances one encounteres. If you lived in Nazi Germany would you have behaved well? If not, then it is just a matter of luck that you are not to be condemned as it seems those who did live there and participated are.
3. Resultant luck deals with the outcome that is often beyond our control. Why do we blame the drunk driver who kills someone more than one who does not? It is just a matter of luck that someone was near the road in the one drivers case.

Epistemic Luck: This has a lot to do with whether we deserve credit for what we know or justifiably believe. It seems that we do, but often what we know or justifiably believe is just a matter of luck. Here's a quick example: there are 40 encyclopedias with different information in each one. There are 40 people each with one encyclopedia. You ask them who the Prime Minister of Djibouti is. The one person who has the correct encyclopedia answers 'Deleita'. We might want to think that that person then knows who the P.M. of Djibouti is and thus deserves credit, but it was solely a matter of luck that they were the person with the correct encyclopedia.

Religious Luck: This parallels moral luck but can be complicated by certain theological positions (including grace and heaven/hell). Linda Zagzebski is one person who I know has an article on it. Does everyone have an equal chance to be saved? It seems not, but then whether or not one is saved may have a good deal to due with luck. It is hard to reconcile an eternal consequence based on luck.

Well, there is the lay of the land. Hopefully I have piqued your interest as well. I think luck can still be sucessfully separated from credit, but it may force us to say some things that are a little uncomfortable.