Does folk disagreement about ambiguous lucky cases warrant an error theory? A response to Hales and Johnson

Philosophical Psychology 34 (6):876-891 (2021)
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Steven Hales and Jennifer Johnson—building off their (2014) work as well as Hales (2015, 2016)—have recently conducted two studies in Philosophical Psychology (2018) that show that there is a relationship between optimism and folk assessments of luck. Hales and Johnson use these results to argue that there is no such thing as luck. Instead, they claim that the concept is highly subjective and a cognitive illusion and that what we are in need of is an error theory. After reviewing Hales and Johnson’s position, I levy four objections against their view. First, they ignore the fact that luck involves a chanciness condition. Second, their standards for what it means to be a useful philosophical theory are too high. Third, their view ignores the fact that there are various accounts of value in the literature and assumes a kind of relativism that few people would be willing to accept. Lastly, their error theory is not supported by the empirical evidence. Because of these problems, Hales and Johnson’s argument is not a serious threat to extant accounts of luck.

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Jesse Hill
Lingnan University

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Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology.Rik Peels - 2016 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press USA.
The Modal Account of Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2014 - Metaphilosophy 45 (4-5):594-619.

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