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Philosophy Talk: Moral Luck


The law treats attempted murder less harshly than murder — does that mean the attempted murderer was lucky to have failed?

It seems reasonable to believe that we can only be blamed or praised for actions that are under our control. Nevertheless, in many concrete scenarios, we're inclined to base our moral assessment of people on circumstances that are ultimately beyond their control. Blind chance, or “moral luck,” as philosophers call it, may determine the difference between, say, murder and attempted murder. But do we think that a would-be murderer whose attempts are foiled by chance is really less morally culpable than someone who happens to succeed? How should moral luck affect our judgments of responsibility? John and Ken welcome back Susan Wolf from UNC Chapel Hill, author of Meaning in Life and Why It Matters. Sunday 10/16 at 10 am and Tuesday 10/18 at 12 noon.