Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Paperback | December 3, 2014

byNeil Levy

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The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He arguesthat the standard luck objection succeeds against common accounts of libertarian free will, but that it is possible to amend libertarian accounts so that they are no more vulnerable to luck than is compatibilism. But compatibilist accounts of luck are themselves vulnerable to a powerful luckobjection: historical compatibilisms cannot satisfactorily explain how agents can take responsibility for their constitutive luck; non-historical compatibilisms run into insurmountable difficulties with the epistemic condition on control over action. Levy argues that because epistemic conditions on control are so demanding that they are rarely satisfied, agents are not blameworthy for performing actions that they take to be best in a given situation. It follows that if there are any actions for which agents are responsible, they are akraticactions; but even these are unacceptably subject to luck. Levy goes on to discuss recent non-historical compatibilisms, and argues that they do not offer a viable alternative to control-based compatibilisms. He suggests that luck undermines our freedom and moral responsibility no matter whetherdeterminism is true or not.

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The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He arguesthat the standard luck objection succeeds again...

Neil Levy is Head of Neuroethics at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes and Director of Research at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He is the author of five previous books and many articles, on a wide range of topics including applied ethics, free will and moral responsibility, philosophical psychology, and philosophy of mind. He di...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:238 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.07 inPublished:December 3, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019870934X

ISBN - 13:9780198709343

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements1. Introduction2. An Account of Luck3. Luck and Libertarianism4. The Luck Problem for Compatibilists5. The Epistemic Dimensions of Control6. Akratic Freedom?7. The Retreat to the Inner Citadel8. Quality Of Will Theories And History-Insensitive CompatibilismBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"[an] impressively wide-ranging book ... a no-frills and honest engagement with the issues by a creative philosopher, and it deserves to be read." --Neal A. Tognazzini, Australasian Journal of Philosophy