I have trouble understanding the value of moral luck as a concept. If I am a conscientious juror who weighs the available evidence, deliberates in good faith, then returns a guilty verdict, yet the defendant is in fact not guilty, then I have in every sense met my moral burden. I am not "wrong" in the moral sense because I did everything asked of a citizen placed in that situation. My guilty verdict was, rather, incorrect. Moral luck does nothing to explain or illuminate the situation. My decision more likely resulted from an incomplete investigation or a poor defense. To claim that it is bad moral luck that my beauty attracts many suitors and enhanced my chances of infidelity is as absurd or empty as to claim that beauty is good moral luck because attractive people are perceived to be more credible.

Moral luck is a tricky concept. The examples you offer in your question illustrate why. Philosophers use the notion of moral luck to refer to situations where a person is subject to moral judgment for something which is (at least in part) outside of her control. A common example: Two drivers side by side speed recklessly through an intersection. A pedestrian enters the intersection from the right, and the driver on the right strikes her. The driver on the left speeds through the intersection without injuring anyone. That the driver on the right struck the pedestrian is to some extent a matter of luck (the pedestrian could just have easily having been entering from the left side). So too, that the driver on the left did not strike the pedestrian is to some extent a matter of luck (again, the pedestrian could just as easily entered from the left with the result that she is struck by the driver on the left). In his seminal article on this topic, Thomas Nagel distinguishes four different kinds of luck. (http...

A very close relative of mine admitted to committing a murder, but revealed few details about the crime. Do I have an ethical obligation to report what I've heard, even though I doubt very much that there is enough information there to lead to an indictment/trial/et cetera? Of course legally I'm not expected to incriminate an immediate family member, but my conscience seems to be pushing me towards reporting the information despite the lack of any significant real world consequences for the relative.

Before reporting the supposed crime, I'd ask myself a lot of questions: First, how strong a piece of evidence is an admission of guilt? Increasingly, psychologists and legal scholars are discovering how remarkably common "false confessions" are: http://courses2.cit.cornell.edu/sociallaw/student_projects/FalseConfessions.html Is there any reason your relative might admit to this crime aside from having actually committed it? Second, you say that there is not enough information to lead to an indictment or trial. But of course that determination isn't yours to make, and it may be that once your relative is under suspicion, an investigation will yield more information about the crime, information that could lead to your relative's being indicted. So do you really know what you claim to know, i.e., that there's not enough evidence to indict (as opposed to your not having access to sufficient evidence to indict)? Third, you say that there aren't any "significant real world consequences" for the relative if...

If we accept that caring for disabled members is an obligation of all society, is it permissible to prevent people from disabling themselves?

I’d be interested to know exactly what’s motivating your question, but here’s a stab at the reasoning that might be behind it: Suppose that a society is (collectively) obligated to care for the disabled. Caring for the disabled imposes burdens on the rest of society. But it’s wrong for us to knowingly act so as make ourselves (more) burdensome to others. So it would be wrong for us to knowingly act so as to disable ourselves, and since it is permissible to permit others from wronging us, it is permissible to prevent people from disabling themselves. Before we address the soundness of this reasoning, I’d note that very few disabled persons have chosen to be disabled. In the vast majority of cases, disability either doesn’t stem from a person’s choice at all (the disability is traced to genetic or environmental causes) or results from a choice that carried a risk of disability (working in a dangerous profession like logging, engaging in a dangerous form of leisure). Most societies address these with...

The age of consent seems to arise because people under a certain age threshold are not capable of making informed, prudent decisions. Because of Neurology or Wisdom or otherwise. However what is to say that they are capable when past this age threshold? Consider an alien species similar to us however they live to the age of 1000 rather than 80-100 as in humans. This alien species might give the age of consent to 200 years because anyone younger is deemed not having enough knowledge to make an informed decision. When this alien species looks at us they will probably pity us for making choices below the age of 200, because we have not the wisdom nor the neurology that is required to make an informed decision. Is the age one has to make an informed decision thus meaningless?

My suspicion is that you may be holding "informed decision" to an unfairly high standard. Granted, we often do not make "informed, prudent decisions." We human beings are certainly not omniscient, and we sometimes reason badly. But plenty of decisions we make can be made rationally without being omniscient: I don't have to know all that much to (say) choose between a salad and an omelette for lunch, or to decide whether to have a summer or a winter vacation this year. Of course, some decisions are more complicated. But I'm happy to say that we have enough knowledge in many cases to make decisions that meet minimal standards of rationality. You may also be making the controversial assumption that the only factor relevant to "age of consent" is rationality. Ethically speaking, certain decisions matter a lot to us because they impinge on fundamental concerns. Whom to marry, for example, is not a decision that others should make for us. For one, even if I'm not perfectly rational about that decision, I'm...

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