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Is there a philosophy of luck or does luck not exist? Is luck deterministic in

Is there a philosophy of luck or does luck not exist? Is luck deterministic in that some people always are more lucky than others? Can luck be considered inborn?

Great questions. Philosophers have been concerned about the role of luck or, as it is sometimes referred to as fortune. Among Ancient philosophers such as Aristotle attention was given to the extent to which a person's character and flourishing depended on luck or, putting it differently, depended on factors outside a person's control. There was concern for what a contemporary philosopher calls "the fragility of goodness."

To get to your questions we have to share an understanding about what is meant by 'luck.' Presumably a person is lucky when she is the benefit of some good that she did not deserve. This might be through chance or through some other agent. In this sense, being born might be considered a matter of luck for, unless we are to appeal to Karma and a robust account of reincarnation, it appears that none of us can take credit for being born nor for our fundamental powers and opportunities. In a religious context, this might be thought of as grace. Apart from this major, foundational matter of luck (in which one's birth and opportunities are undeserved), there are cases of good or bad luck that may run throughout life. One might avoid being in a car crash by luck or one might be in a crash due to bad luck. All this can be recognized without assimilating luck to 'chance.' Perhaps the sharpest contrast with seeing the world as suffused with good or bad luck would be a strong view that the world is under the exact, providential control of an all powerful God who insures that there are no "accidents" insofar as an accident is an event that was not (on some level) intended by some intentional, purposive power.

What should we think of all this? Probably most philosophers (including theists, those who believe in an all powerful God) do grant that luck, of some kind exists. One of the lessons to draw is that when some persons receive some good or meet with some ill this is not something that they deserved. This may form the basis of a duty for those who have good fortune to seek to aid those who are subject to ill fortune. The philosopher John Rawls in the late 20th century was deeply committed to developing a theory of justice that would seek to address the goods and ills we face in which the better off would give to the worse off in an effort to correct the 'injustice' of luck.

A matter of ongoing concern is the extent to which luck can or should affect our moral judgments. Imagine two drunk drivers who place other innocent persons at equal risk, the only difference is that one of them did not injure anyone (due to good luck) and the other killed innocent persons (due to bad luck). While the law may treat the cases differently (E.G. in the case of homicide, compensation must be paid to the families), but from a moral point of view it seems (intuitively) that the drivers are equally blame-worthy.

Great questions. Philosophers have been concerned about the role of luck or, as it is sometimes referred to as fortune. Among Ancient philosophers such as Aristotle attention was given to the extent to which a person's character and flourishing depended on luck or, putting it differently, depended on factors outside a person's control. There was concern for what a contemporary philosopher calls "the fragility of goodness." To get to your questions we have to share an understanding about what is meant by 'luck.' Presumably a person is lucky when she is the benefit of some good that she did not deserve. This might be through chance or through some other agent. In this sense, being born might be considered a matter of luck for, unless we are to appeal to Karma and a robust account of reincarnation, it appears that none of us can take credit for being born nor for our fundamental powers and opportunities. In a religious context, this might be thought of as grace. Apart from this major,...

Suppose I agree with theists that "God exists" is a necessary proposition, and

Suppose I agree with theists that "God exists" is a necessary proposition, and so is either a tautology or contradiction. That seems to indicate that the probability of "God exists" is either 1 or 0. Suppose also that I don't know which it is, but I find the evidential argument from evil convincing, and so rate the probability of "God exists" at, say, 0.2. But if the probability of "God exists" is either 1 or 0, then it can't be 0.2 - that would be like saying that "God exists" is a contingent proposition, which I've accepted it isn't. How then can I apply probabilistic reasoning to "God exists" at all? If I can, then how should I explain the apparent conflict?

Interesting points. I take it that the most reasonable reply for a defender of the ontological argument to make is to claim that Prefoessor Smith's world is not in fact possible. If one can make a case for abstracta (properties or propositions necessarily existing) then there cannot be a world where only a single pencil exists. For a good case for such a Platonic position, see Roderick Chisholm's Person and Object. R.M. Adams also has a good discussion of the difficulty of imagining / conceiving of God's non-existence. I take this up in a modest book: Philosophy of Religion: A Beginner's Guide (Oneworld Press, Oxford) or in more detail in a discussion of Hume and necessity in Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and religion since the seventeenth century (Cambridge University Press).

Interesting points. I take it that the most reasonable reply for a defender of the ontological argument to make is to claim that Prefoessor Smith's world is not in fact possible. If one can make a case for abstracta (properties or propositions necessarily existing) then there cannot be a world where only a single pencil exists. For a good case for such a Platonic position, see Roderick Chisholm's Person and Object. R.M. Adams also has a good discussion of the difficulty of imagining / conceiving of God's non-existence. I take this up in a modest book: Philosophy of Religion: A Beginner's Guide (Oneworld Press, Oxford) or in more detail in a discussion of Hume and necessity in Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and religion since the seventeenth century (Cambridge University Press).