In Defense of Moral Luck: Why Luck Often Affects Praiseworthiness and Blameworthiness, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

In Defense of Moral Luck

Why Luck Often Affects Praiseworthiness and Blameworthiness, 1st Edition

By Robert J. Hartman


152 pages

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The problem of moral luck is that there is a contradiction in our common sense ideas about moral responsibility. In one strand of our thinking, we believe that a person can become more blameworthy by luck. For example, two reckless drivers manage their vehicles in the same way, and one but not the other kills a pedestrian. We blame the killer driver more than the merely reckless driver, because we believe that the killer driver is more blameworthy. Nevertheless, this idea contradicts another feature of our thinking captured in this moral principle: A person’s blameworthiness cannot be affected by that which is not within her control. Thus, our ordinary thinking about moral responsibility implies that the drivers are and are not equally blameworthy.

In Defense of Moral Luck aims to make progress in resolving this contradiction. Hartman defends the claim that certain kinds of luck in results, circumstance, and character can partially determine the degree of a person’s blameworthiness. He also explains why there is a puzzle in our thinking about moral responsibility in the first place if luck often affects a person’s praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. Furthermore, the book’s methodology provides a unique way to advance the moral luck debate with arguments from diverse areas in philosophy that do not bottom out in standard pro-moral luck intuitions.


"Robert J. Hartman's book is packed with argument, and he seems to have read—and determined to respond to—the entirety of the moral luck literature. The plus side is that anyone with some interest in moral luck will find a discussion of their corner of the debate. There is something for everyone … Critics of moral luck will have to contend with the detailed defense that Hartman makes and should not be surprised if they find that Hartman has already dealt with their criticism … This book is not the last word on moral luck, but it is a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This terrific and timely monograph provides a thorough introduction to and significantly advances the important debate over the nature and scope of moral luck. After critically assessing the main competing views, Hartman develops and defends an unorthodox but highly promising position that countenances not only constitutive and circumstantial but also resultant moral luck. This book will be of great interest to any who work in ethics or philosophy of action, and to many who work in philosophy of law, social/political philosophy, or epistemology." E.J. Coffman, The University of Tennessee, USA

Table of Contents

1. Introducing the Problem of Moral Luck

2. The Concept of Moral Luck

3. Against the Skeptical Denial of Moral Luck

4. Against the Non-Skeptical Denial of Moral Luck

5. In Defense of Moral Luck

6. Error Theory for the Luck-Free Intuition

About the Author

Robert J. Hartman received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from St. Louis University in 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow with the Gothenburg Responsibility Project at the University of Gothenburg. His main interests include moral responsibility, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. His research has been published or is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, Philosophia, and the Journal of Philosophical Research.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Ethics and Moral Theory

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy