Luck leaves no alibi

This npr article “Is There Such A Thing As Scientific Luck?” takes issue with the unavoidable influence of luck on the way we are assessed — a drunk driver is charged with manslaughter if he runs someone over, but if the street is empty, he’s just a drunk driver; two scientists run the same experiments of same quality; only the one who happens by chance to catch the necessary evidence gets the Nobel Prize.

The reason these philosophers are finding problem with the problem with moral luck is that they are misreading the purpose of these punishments and accolades. They think these assessments are evaluation of an individual’s moral status, when they are really measures to make society run smoothly.

Even though we are faced with actions out of our control, we tweak our actions to the probability of something happening. Don’t speed as there is a one in whatever chance of a careless pedestrian crossing your path; work as hard as the Nobel Prize winning scientist because that specific particle could present itself during either one of your bathroom breaks.

The irrelevance of moral luck — the reason that consequence and results matters more than intention or effort — shows that at the end of the day, society is above the individual.

Reading this and then watching this video, I’m a little surprised that ‘moral luck’ is an actual theory significant to some philosophers. I wonder if it would still be a conundrum if the field of philosophy were more integrated with sociology.