I am really fascinated by the concept of luck and its applications in philosophy. However, I have realized that it is a difficult task to pin down exactly what luck is. Reading Duncan Pritchard's book Epistemic Luck has brought this out.
Here is Pritchard:
Using the notion of an 'accident' does not seem to work since some cases of luck are not accidents. It is a matter of luck that an individual wins the lottery, but it is not an accident in typical cases anyway.
Using the notion of 'chance' does not seem to work for similar reasons. A mudslide can occur by chance, yet if no one's life is affected by it we would not consider such an event lucky.
Using the notion of 'control' is problematic, since many things are out of our control (the sun's rising) yet such event are not considered lucky.
Pritchard offers the following 2 criteria:
(L1) If an event is lucky, then it is an event that occurs in the actual world but which does not occur in a wide class of the nearest possbile worlds where the relevant initial conditions for that event are the same as the actual world.
(L2) If an event is lucky, then it is an event that is significant to the agent concerned (or would be significant were the agent to be availed of the relevant facts).
Besides being very vague criteria (advantage?) Pritchard's criteria fail to account for the cases of epistemic luck that are his target (Gettier cases). Briefly, if the belief in question is a belief in a deep contingent fact which is true in all or most the nearest possible worlds, then that belief can still be Gettierized yet it will not be lucky on Pritchard's account. (Thanks to Rich and Trent for pointing this out)
Having said all that, I am looking for help in describing our concept of luck. Do any of the accounts seem right in certain ways? Here are some questions:
1) Is what we call lucky pragmatic? Could chance events really be lucky, it is just that we don't call them that?
2) Is there anything about foreseen consequences that ought to play into the concept?
3) Is the concept nothing but trouble and anything that appeals to luck would do better appealing to some other clearer concept?