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Summary Moral luck occurs when the features of action which generate a particular moral assessment lie significantly beyond the control of the agent who is so assessed.  It is very difficult to deny that we seem to assess persons for things that they do not control: we punish the successful murderer more harshly than the person who unsuccessfully attempts the act. The problem appears more and more formidable as we consider the myriad of ways in which the results of our actions lie beyond our control.
Key works In Williams & Nagel 1976, Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams initiated the modern discussion of moral luck.  They differed in their aims: Nagel thought that the phenomenon provided an important clue to the nature of the "objective" and "subjective" perspectives we can take on our own agency, whereas Williams thought that moral luck was a kind of "oxymoron" which showed that the institution of morality fails to be all that it aims to be.   Kant's Groundwork For the Metaphysics of Morals (Kant 2011) remains the classic attempt to "purify" moral judgment, locating it solely in the character of an agent's intentions and (apparently) divorcing such judgment from the contingent effects of our actions.  Daniel Statman's Moral Luck is a well-known collection of essays which deal with the problem.  See also Andre 1983 and Jensen 1984.
Introductions Dana Nelkin's Moral Luck provides an excellent review of the issue and of the literature that has arisen in response to the problems.
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  1. John P. Anderson (1997). Sophie's Choice. Southern Journal of Philosophy 35 (4):439-450.
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  2. Judith Andre (2002). Moral Distress in Healthcare. Bioethics Forum (Midwest Bioethics Center) 18 (1-2):44-46.
    Moral distress is the sense that one must do, or cooperate in, what is wrong. It is paradigmatically faced by nurses, but it is almost a universal occupational hazard.
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  3. Judith Andre (1983). Nagel, Williams, and Moral Luck. Analysis 43 (4):202 - 207.
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  4. Richard Arneson (2001). Luck and Equality. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75:51 - 90.
    [Susan Hurley] I argue that the aim to neutralize the influence of luck on distribution cannot provide a basis for egalitarianism: it can neither specify nor justify an egalitarian distribution. Luck and responsibility can play a role in determining what justice requires to be redistributed, but from this we cannot derive how to distribute: we cannot derive a pattern of distribution from the 'currency' of distributive justice. I argue that the contrary view faces a dilemma, according to whether it understands (...)
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  5. Axel Arturo Barceló Aspeitia (2012). Semantic and Moral Luck. Metaphilosophy 43 (3):204-220.
    The similarities between the philosophical debates surrounding assessment sensitivity and moral luck run so deep that one can easily adapt almost any argument from one debate, change some terms, adapt the examples, and end up with an argument relevant to the other. This article takes Brian Rosebury's strategy for resisting moral luck in “Moral Responsibility and ‘Moral Luck' ” (1995) and turns it into a strategy for resisting assessment sensitivity. The article shows that one of Bernard Williams's examples motivating moral (...)
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  6. Nafsika Athanassoulis (2005). Morality, Moral Luck, and Responsibility: Fortune's Web. Palgrave Macmillan.
    This book considers two different approaches to moral luck--the Aristotelian vulnerability to factors outside the agent's control and the Kantian ambition to make morality immune to luck--and concludes that both approaches have more in common than previously thought. At the same time, it also considers recent developments in the field of virtue ethics and neo-kantianism.
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  7. Nafsika Athanassoulis (2005). Common-Sense Virtue Ethics and Moral Luck. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (3):265 - 276.
    Moral luck poses a problem for out conception of responsibility because it highlights a tension between morality and lack of control. Michael Slote’s common-sense virtue ethics claims to avoid this problem. However there are a number of objections to this claim. Firstly, it is not clear that Slote fully appreciates the problem posed by moral luck. Secondly, Slote’s move from the moral to the ethical is problematic. Thirdly it is not clear why we should want to abandon judgements of moral (...)
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  8. Nathan Ballantyne (2012). Luck and Interests. Synthese 185 (3):319-334.
    Recent work on the nature of luck widely endorses the thesis that an event is good or bad luck for an individual only if it is significant for that individual. In this paper, I explore this thesis, showing that it raises questions about interests, well-being, and the philosophical uses of luck. In Sect. 1, I examine several accounts of significance, due to Pritchard (2005), Coffman (2007), and Rescher (1995). Then in Sect. 2 I consider what some theorists want to ‘do’ (...)
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  9. Will Barrett (2006). Luck and Decision. Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (1):73–87.
    Much recent work on moral responsibility and on distributive justice has addressed the concept of luck. Very little attention has been given to the relation of luck to rationality. How does luck bear on our choices? Can beliefs about luck lead to unwise decisions? These questions have particular relevance for understanding gambling behaviour, and for public policy on gambling. In this paper I argue that no one is reliably lucky, and that projecting luck can undermine rational decision-making. I give various (...)
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  10. Thomas Bittner (2008). Punishment for Criminal Attempts: A Legal Perspective on the Problem of Moral Luck. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (1):pp. 51-83.
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  11. E. J. Bond (1983). Moral Luck By Bernard Williams Cambridge University Press, 1981, Xiii + 173 Pp., £16.50. [REVIEW] Philosophy 58 (226):544-.
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  12. E. J. Bond (1983). WILLIAMS, BERNARD Moral Luck. [REVIEW] Philosophy 58:544.
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  13. Maria C. Bottis, Frances S. Grodzinsky & Herman T. Tavani (2010). Editorial: Moral Luck, Social Networking Sites, and Trust on the Web. [REVIEW] Ethics and Information Technology 12 (4):297-298.
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  14. Luc Bovens (1998). Moral Luck, Photojournalism, and Pornography. Journal of Value Inquiry 32 (2):205-217.
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  15. Peter Breiner (1989). Democratic Autonomy, Political Ethics, and Moral Luck. Political Theory 17 (4):550-574.
  16. David O. Brink (2013). First Acts, Last Acts, and Abandonment. Legal Theory 19 (2):114-123.
    This contribution reconstructs and assesses Gideon Yaffe’s claims in his book Attempts about what constitutes an attempt, what can count as evidence that an attempt has been made, whether abandonment is a genuine defense, and whether attempts should be punished less severely than completed crimes. I contrast Yaffe’s account of being motivated by an intention and the completion of an attempt in terms of the truth of the completion counterfactual with an alternative picture of attempts as temporally extended decision trees (...)
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  17. Berit Brogaard (2003). Epistemological Contextualism and the Problem of Moral Luck. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 84 (4):351–370.
    We have a strong intuition that a person’s moral standing should not be affected by luck, but the fact is that we do blame a morally unfortunate person more than her fortunate counterpart. This is the problem of moral luck. I argue that the problem arises because account is not taken of the fact that the extension of the term ‘blame’ is contextually determined. Loosely speaking, the more likely an act is to have an undesirable consequence, the more its agent (...)
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  18. Berit Brogaard & Barry Smith (2005). On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life. Philosophical Papers 34 (3):443-458.
    A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question?a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face ths proposal. One concerns responsiblity: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more (...)
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  19. Fernando Broncano‐Berrocal (2015). Luck as Risk and the Lack of Control Account of Luck. Metaphilosophy 46 (1):1-25.
    This essay explains the notion of luck in terms of risk. It starts by distinguishing two senses of risk, the risk that an event has of occurring and the risk at which an agent is with respect to an event. It cashes out the former in modal terms and the latter in terms of lack of control. It then argues that the presence or absence of event-relative risk marks a distinction between two types of luck or fortune commonly overlooked in (...)
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  20. Eric Brown (2011). Control, Risk, and the Role of Luck in Moral Responsibility. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 18 (2):11-21.
    Questions about the role of luck in attributions of moral responsibility have troubled theorists for some time. In this paper I will explicate a position that acknowledges luck as a contributing factor to most, if not all, outcomes and consequences while denying luck the exculpatory role that some theorists contend it plays. I begin by going through the characterization of two perspectives on luck offered by Susan Wolf. From there I outline two necessary conditions for the legitimate attribution of praise (...)
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  21. Brynmor Browne (1992). A Solution to the Problem of Moral Luck. Philosophical Quarterly 42 (168):345-356.
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  22. Arnold Burms (2003). Moreel toeval en symbolisch herstel. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 65 (4):615 - 626.
    This paper does not question the thesis that the phenomena associated with the phrase 'moral luck' point to an important philosophical problem. The aim is, rather, to sketch an interpretation of these phenomena. It is argued that the notion of symbolic restoration is the key we need to understand why the out-come of our actions has a moral significance that is not reducible to the moral significance of the mental states from wich these actions arise.
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  23. Vanessa Carbonell (2013). What We Know and What We Owe. Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 3.
    Knowledge is necessary for certain moral obligations. In learning something new, one sometimes triggers a moral obligation. This paper argues that the existence of these knowledge-based obligations poses a problem for the view that we are not only free to choose the course of our own lives, including our careers and personal projects, but also free to change our minds and quit at any time to pursue something else. For if our choice of life path has generated knowledge-based moral obligations (...)
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  24. Claudia Card (1998). Stoicism, Evil, and the Possibility of Morality. Metaphilosophy 29 (4):245-253.
    Martha Nussbaum's work has been characterized by a sustained critique of Stoic ethics, insofar as that ethics denies the validity and importance of our valuing things that elude our control. This essay explores the idea that the very possibility of morality, understood as social or interpersonal ethics, presupposes that we do value such things. If my argument is right, Stoic ethics is unable to recognize the validity of morality (so understood) but can at most acknowledge duties to oneself. A further (...)
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  25. Claudia Card (1996). The Unnatural Lottery: Character and Moral Luck. temple.
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  26. Claudia Card (1995). Gender and Moral Luck [1990]. In Virginia Held (ed.), Justice and Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics. Westview Press. 79.
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  27. Michael Cholbi (2014). Luck, Blame, and Desert. Philosophical Studies 169 (2):313-332.
    T.M. Scanlon has recently proposed what I term a ‘double attitude’ account of blame, wherein blame is the revision of one’s attitudes in light of another person’s conduct, conduct that we believe reveals that the individual lacks the normative attitudes we judge essential to our relationship with her. Scanlon proposes that this account justifies differences in blame that in turn reflect differences in outcome luck. Here I argue that although the double attitude account can justify blame’s being sensitive to outcome (...)
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  28. E. J. Coffman (2007). Thinking About Luck. Synthese 158 (3):385 - 398.
    Luck looms large in numerous different philosophical subfields. Unfortunately, work focused exclusively on the nature of luck is in short supply on the contemporary analytic scene. In his highly impressive recent book Epistemic Luck, Duncan Pritchard helps rectify this neglect by presenting a partial account of luck that he uses to illuminate various ways luck can figure in cognition. In this paper, I critically evaluate both Pritchard’s account of luck and another account to which Pritchard’s discussion draws our attention—viz., that (...)
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  29. David W. Concepcion (2002). Moral Luck, Control, and the Bases of Desert. Journal of Value Inquiry 36 (4):455-461.
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  30. Margaret Urban Coyne (1985). Moral Luck? Journal of Value Inquiry 19 (4):319-325.
    Despite bernard williams's and thomas nagel's attempts to show that moral luck poses deep problems about the reality of morality or the tenability of our actual moral concepts, It is argued that moral luck has this sort of alarming result only if we are (roughly) kantians about moral agency. Minus certain implausible assumptions, Moral luck is neither contradictory, Paradoxical, Or even surprising.
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  31. R. Crisp (1993). Moral Luck in Medical Ethics and Practical Politics. Journal of Medical Ethics 19 (4):242-243.
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  32. Scott A. Davison (1999). Moral Luck and the Flicker of Freedom. American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (3):241 - 251.
    I argue that a well-known argument concerning moral luck supports something like the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP), despite the attacks on PAP by Harry Frankfurt and John Martin Fischer.
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  33. Donna Dickenson (1989). Moral Luck in Medical Ethics and Practical Politics. Dissertation, Open University (United Kingdom)
    Available from UMI in association with The British Library. ;Typically we maintain two incompatible standards towards right action and good character, and the tension between these polarities creates the paradox of moral luck. In practice we regard actions as right or wrong, and character as good or bad, partly according to what happens as a result of the agent's decision. Yet we also think that people should not be held responsible for matters beyond their control. ;This split underpins Kant's assertion (...)
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  34. Darren Domsky (2005). Tossing the Rotten Thing Out: Eliminating Bad Reasons Not to Solve the Problem of Moral Luck. Philosophy 80 (4):531-541.
    Solving the problem of moral luck—the problem of dealing with conflicting intuitions about whether moral blameworthiness varies with luck in cases of negligence—is like repairing a dented fender in front of two kinds of critic. The one keeps telling you that there is no dent, and the other sees the dent but keeps warning you that repairing it will do more harm than good. It is time to straighten things out. As I argue elsewhere, the solution to the problem of (...)
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  35. M. V. Dougherty (2004). Moral Dilemmas and Moral Luck. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 78:233-246.
    In recent years, Alasdair MacIntyre and others have observed an increasing interest on the part of contemporary ethicists regarding the question of whetherinnocent agents ever find themselves in moral dilemmas. This present-day support for the existence of moral dilemmas for innocent agents has spawned a re-reading of canonical ethical texts in the history of philosophy. The point of departure for the present paper is one particularly contentious battleground of this ongoing historical retrieval, namely, the ethical writings of Thomas Aquinas. I (...)
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  36. Rahul Kumar Edward Royzman (2004). Is Consequential Luck Morally Inconsequential? Empirical Psychology and the Reassessment of Moral Luck. Ratio 17 (3):329-344.
    Philosophical discussions of the phenomenon that has come to be known as ‘moral luck’ have either dismissed it as illusory or touted it as the evidence for doubting the probative value of our commitment to certain widely avowed views concerning interpersonal assessments of responsibility. In this discussion, we present a third, distinctive interpretation of the moral luck phenomenon. Drawing upon empirically robust results from psychological studies of judgment bias, we argue that the phenomenon of moral luck is demonstrably not illusory. (...)
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  37. Rem B. Edwards (1985). Moral Luck. International Studies in Philosophy 17 (1):111-112.
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  38. Nir Eisikovits (2005). Moral Luck and the Criminal Law. In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & David Shier (eds.), Law and Social Justice. Mit Press. 105--124.
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  39. Gregg Elshof (2001). The Problem of Moral Luck and The Parable of the Land Owner. Philosophia Christi 3 (1):139-152.
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  40. David Enoch (2011). Being Responsible, Taking Responsibility, and Penumbral Agency. In Heuer and Lang (ed.), Luck, Value, and Commitment: Themes from the Ethics of Bernard Williams. Oxford University Press, Usa.
    In "Moral Luck" Bernard Williams famously drew on our intuitive judgments about agent-regret – mostly, on our judgment that agent-regret is often appropriate – in his argument about the role of luck in rational and moral evaluation. I think that Williams is importantly right about the appropriateness of agent-regret, but importantly wrong about the implications of this observation. In this paper, I suggest an alternative understanding of the normative judgment Williams is putting forward, the one about the appropriateness of agent-regret. (...)
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  41. David Enoch (2010). Cognitive Biases and Moral Luck. Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (3):372-386.
    Some of the recent philosophical literature on moral luck attempts to make headway in the moral-luck debate by employing the resources of empirical psychology, in effect arguing that some of the intuitive judgments relevant to the moral-luck debate are best explained - and so presumably explained away - as the output of well-documented cognitive biases. We argue that such attempts are empirically problematic, and furthermore that even if they were not, it is still not at all clear what philosophical significance (...)
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  42. David Enoch (2010). Moral Luck and the Law. Philosophy Compass 5 (1):42-54.
    Is there a difference in moral blameworthiness between a murderer and an attempted murderer? Should there be a legal difference between them? These questions are particular instances of the question of moral luck and legal luck (respectively). In this paper, I survey and explain the main argumentative moves within the general philosophical discussion of moral luck. I then discuss legal luck, and the different ways in which this discussion may be related to that of moral luck.
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  43. David Enoch & Andrei Marmor (2007). The Case Against Moral Luck. Law and Philosophy 26 (4):405-436.
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  44. Paul Farwell (1994). Aristotle, Success, and Moral Luck. Journal of Philosophical Research 19:37-50.
    My point of departure is Bernard WiIliams’ “moral luck” thesis and its claim that luck and success are an integral part of ethics. Some scholars think AristotIe’s ethics lends support to a version of the moral luck thesis. My claim is the exact opposite: Aristotle gives a subtle and interesting argument for keeping luck and ethics distinct. Luck plays Iittle role since the moral worth of action Iies in the agent’s choice, proairesis, not merely in the quality of the act (...)
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  45. Joel Feinberg (1995). Instigating the Unpredisposed: Bad Luck in Law and Life. In Ruth Barcan Marcus, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Diana Raffman & Nicholas Asher (eds.), Modality, Morality, and Belief: Essays in Honor of Ruth Barcan Marcus. Cambridge University Press. 152--173.
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  46. Marcelo Ferrante (2009). Recasting the Problem of Resultant Luck. Legal Theory 15 (4):267.
    I offer in this paper an argument in support of the orthodox view that resultant luck should not affect judgments of blameworthiness—and so, for example, that we should not blame the successful assassin more than the attempted assassin who equally tries but fails. This view, though widely held among moral philosophers and legal scholars, has been severely challenged as implying either the implausible rejection of moral luck or an equally implausible theory of wrongness according to which actual consequences may play (...)
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  47. Marc Fleurbaey (2010). Shlomi Segall, Health, Luck, and Justice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), Pp. X + 239. Utilitas 22 (4):503-506.
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  48. Marc Fleurbaey (2005). Neutralising Luck, Rewarding Effort. Philosophical Books 46 (3):188-198.
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  49. Christopher Evan Franklin (2011). Farewell to the Luck (and Mind) Argument. Philosophical Studies 156 (2):199-230.
    In this paper I seek to defend libertarianism about free will and moral responsibility against two well-known arguments: the luck argument and the Mind argument. Both of these arguments purport to show that indeterminism is incompatible with the degree of control necessary for free will and moral responsibility. I begin the discussion by elaborating these arguments, clarifying important features of my preferred version of libertarianism—features that will be central to an adequate response to the arguments—and showing why a strategy of (...)
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  50. Marilyn Friedman (2009). Feminist Virtue Ethics, Happiness, and Moral Luck. Hypatia 24 (1):29 - 40.
    Can men who dominate women nevertheless be happy or lead flourishing lives? Building on Claudia Card's exploration of moral luck, this paper considers the belief that male dominators cannot be happy. The discussion ranges over both virtue theory and empirical research into the "belief in a just world." I conclude that there are reasons to avoid believing that male dominators cannot be happy or flourish, and that feminism does not need that belief.
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