Doors, keys, and moral luck: A reply to Domsky

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I argued against Domsky that the problem of moral luck is not captured well when formulated in terms of blameworthiness. In Walker's words, the moral luck issue concerns "a full repertoire of perceptions, judgments, expectations, responses, attitudes, and demands with respect to ourselves and others" (op. cit., p. 238). I presented at some length Walker's argument in favor of a world with moral luck, a world of impure agency, and tried to show the failure of Domsky in refuting her argument. Until this argument (as well as other arguments Domsky does not address in his paper) is refuted, the problem of moral luck cannot be said to have been solved once and forever. Furthermore, even if Walker (as well as Williams and Nagel) are wrong in extending the realm of responsibility beyond that of controllability, they are definitely not obviously wrong, in a way that calls for some kind of psychological account for the assumed breakdown of our rational capabilities. Such a psychological account would be helpful only as an error theory, presuming to explain how people fail to see the obvious. Moreover, the psychological "solution" offered by Domsky fails on its own merits. The selfish bias should have led to the adoption of intuition 1, rather than the adoption of intuition 2. The solution of the moral luck problem lies in some solid and irresistible philosophical argument for or against moral luck. I do not think Domsky has provided us with such an argument. I am afraid the "stink" - to use again one of his illustrative expressions - instigated by the paradox of moral luck is still in the air. There is a door, it is still locked, and we are in need of a key.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-436
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Philosophy
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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