Nigel Warburton: Moral Luck – an Oxymoron?

On Tuesday September 11th we were lucky to have with us Bernard Williams’ widow Patricia, as well as the well-known philosopher Nigel Warburton, who spoke to the WP on “Moral Luck: an Oxymoron?”. Nigel’s point was that we often surprise ourselves by blaming people for being unlucky: his main example was that of a speeding driver who runs someone over – the driver is surely unlucky if someone runs out in front of her, and yet we feel she deserves a harsher sentence than if she’d been lucky and no one had been hurt. We somehow feel that the harm done by one’s actions ought to feature in the calculation of a fair punishment, regardless of the amount of control the person had over their actions. It was a really clear and interesting presentation, and Nigel was particularly impressed with the contributions from the younger pupils, which he said were better than those of many undergraduates. The conversation continued into the evening.

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