Philosophers Nagel and Kant on Moral Luck Essay

Philosophers Nagel and Kant on Moral Luck Essay

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How can we determine what actions, if any, we're morally responsible for? At first the concept of the control principle was in practice until people came to realize that they didn’t actually practice this to the fullest degree; this lead to the creation of the idea of Moral Luck. Two philosophers with opposing viewpoints on the concept of Moral Luck were Nagel and Kant. I believe Kant has a good base for what he believes, but I don’t think he has all the answers as far as the role luck plays in our decisions.
To start things off we should discuss what the control principle is. "The control principle states: We should morally assess an agent on the basis of a factor, F, only if F is under the agent’s control". Basically we should only morally judge actions only on factors that the agent has control over. An example of this would be if we had two drivers on the road heading home. Assume that both of them are following all the rules and regulations of the road. All the sudden, a dog runs out in front of one of the drivers resulting in the dog dying. If you were to follow the control principle then both drivers would be morally assessed the same. The dog being killed was an uncontrollable factor to the agent. We should not morally judge him more harshly than the other driver because an uncontrollable misfortunate event took place.
The problem with the control principle is that if you follow it exactly then you really can’t hold anyone morally responsible for their actions. A lot of factors go into decisions and actions. It would be next to impossible to decipher every little detail of whether it was within the agents control or not. So, if following this principle, you would pretty much be saying no one is morall...


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...at all the parts you’ll see this was not his true intention. Jones was told that if he didn’t kill Smith then his entire family would be killed. Well clearly Jones is going to want to save his family. Now even though Jones has respect for Smith, he can’t place that above his family.
The actual conclusion to this given situation is that Jones had good intentions. He intended to save his family. Trying to save your entire family from being murdered by a hit man seems to be a pretty good intention in any rational human beings eyes. The fact that Smith and Jones be put in that situation may be a matter of luck, maybe even the act of shooting Smith was. This is irrelevant though when you’re looking to where the individual’s true intentions lie. Basically, luck plays its part on situations but it's more of where your intention lies in the grand scheme of things.

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