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Hurley, Susan, and . Luck and Equality

2001, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75: 51-72.

Abstract: I argue that the aim to neutralize the influence of luck on distribution cannot provide a basis for egalitarianism: it can neither specify nor justify an egalitarian distribution. Luck and responsibility can play a role in determining what justice requires to be redistributed, but from this we cannot derive how to distribute: we cannot derive a pattern of distribution from the ‘currency’ of distributive justice. I argue that the contrary view faces a dilemma, according to whether it understands luck in interpersonal or counterfactual terms.

Comment: Useful as further reading on distributive justice, especially in connection to Ronald Dworkin's resource-egalitarian theory and Gerald Cohen's egalitarianism.

Lackey, Jennifer, and . Why We Don’t Deserve Credit for Everything We Know

2009, Synthese 158(3): 345-361.

Abstract: A view of knowledge – what I call the Deserving Credit View of Knowledge (DCVK) – found in much of the recent epistemological literature, particularly among so-called virtue epistemologists, centres around the thesis that knowledge is something for which a subject deserves credit. Indeed, this is said to be the central difference between those true beliefs that qualify as knowledge and those that are true merely by luck – the former, unlike the latter, are achievements of the subject and are thereby creditable to her. Moreover, it is often further noted that deserving credit is what explains the additional value that knowledge has over merely lucky true belief. In this paper, I argue that the general conception of knowledge found in the DCVK is fundamentally incorrect. In particular, I show that deserving credit cannot be what distinguishes knowledge from merely lucky true belief since knowledge is not something for which a subject always deserves credit.

Comment: This is an important paper in the literature on virtue epistemology. It argues that one formulation of the virtue epistemology in terms of the Credit View is very problematic. It is suitable for both lower- and upper-division of undergraduate courses on epistemology.

Nussbaum, Martha, and . The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy

2001, Cambridge University Press .

Back matter: This book is a study of ancient views about ‘moral luck’. It examines the fundamental ethical problem that many of the valued constituents of a well-lived life are vulnerable to factors outside a person’s control, and asks how this affects our appraisal of persons and their lives. The Greeks made a profound contribution to these questions, yet neither the problems nor the Greek views of them have received the attention they deserve. This book thus recovers a central dimension of Greek thought and addresses major issues in contemporary ethical theory. One of its most original aspects is its interrelated treatment of both literary and philosophical texts. The Fragility of Goodness has proven to be important reading for philosophers and classicists, and its non-technical style makes it accessible to any educated person interested in the difficult problems it tackles.

Comment: Apart from offering an in-depth study of moral luck, the book presents interesting criticisms of Plato's ethics and commentaries on Aristotle.