Moral luck emerges when one is treated well or praised regardless of the fact that the outcome of what has led him or her to be praised is dependent on other factors that are beyond his or her control. (Thomas, N. 1979) & (Williams B. 1993)
Thomas Nagel in his article of “Moral Luck” (1979) noted that in our day to day activities, moral blame and moral praise are influenced to a greater extent intuitively. He gave an example of two reckless drivers where one causes an accident and the other does not. The fact the driver who has caused accident no matter how he/she has tried to avoid it is more blameworthy than the other driver shows how society’s judgment depends on intuition. He writes that many judgments and practices assumes that one has a full control of the situation and the outcome of what one is blamed of or praised for depends on the factors that are fully in his or her control. Nagel thinks that in reality, it is somehow hard to blame or praise someone going on an assumption of control that the outcome was solely determined by the person’s control.
His argument was that, in many cases, the outcome of many occurrences seems to be beyond human control. He outlined four ways in which objects of moral assessment were subject to moral luck. First of all Nagel touched on the issue of luck. This is simply the way situation have turned out. In the case of the above two drivers, they both committed similar offences of reckless driving, but the one who was more blameworthy was the one who caused death by accident. The second thing that he wrote about was the personal factors that determined the behavioral character of someone. He argues that one can be blamed due to his or her behavior without putting into consideration that this behavior was shaped by environment and upbringing which are beyond one’s control. Thirdly, he discusses which was also subject to forces of luck was the responsibilities that are bestowed on someone and of which are subject to factors beyond the control of someone. Finally, he discussed the very actions of will too is subject to forces of luck.
Critical reflection of “Moral Luck”
Moral luck becomes a problem due to inclination of judgments and moral responsibility towards voluntary action rather than the generally applied intuitive judgment. Thomas Nagel in this article of “Moral Luck” did not provide for an effective and faster solution to this problem of moral luck. He goes to suggest that moral luck in a sense has no solution. According to Thomas Nagel’s argument, he strongly suggests that individuals should not receive blame or praise for things that they had no control of. Writing further, he showed ways in which various outcomes depended on external factors that are not under someone’s control. In this way Nagel seems to erode the very basic foundation of judging moral responsibility and his assertion would be dangerous to the society as many deviance behaviors would arise since most of them have certain elements of factors that one would not have any control of. The reality is that there is no course of action that is not under the influential forces of luck. (Walker, M.U 1993) Though Nagel argued that someone ought to be blame free if the outcome were influenced by external forces of luck, the society while judging someone must put into consideration the prevailing circumstances and also the final result of the outcome not simply following the principle of control as Nagel advocated.
Personally, I agree with most of Nagel’s suggestions about moral luck. I do not think that is fair for someone to be praised or even be blamed for something that they have absolutely no control over, particularly the latter. The world is very dynamic and unpredictable and it is this dynamism that makes living life so exhilarating. However, it is not fair for one to receive praise or blame for things or outcomes that are consequences of uncontrollable factors. Such things such as an individual’s behavior, no matter how irritating it may be may not actually be someone’s fault. The behavior may have been a consequence of the environment that eh grew up in. the best thing to do would be to “tolerate” rather than “praise” or “blame”. It is however impossible to enact such a notion in this world and this is where the ‘problem’ (which is what I think it is), of moral luck comes into play.
The Absurd is among the articles written by Professor Thomas Nagel (1971). In this article, Nagel tried to explain that the absurdity of life was a kind of perception that was at an individual level, and that differed from one person to another. He further went on to suggest that someone perceives that things are absurd when reality fails to fit congruently into what he or she conceptualizes reality ought to be. Nagel suggests that absurdity arises in life due to inverted priorities of people through taking things that are less important in life very seriously. In this article, he argued that the importance and meaningfulness of things are internally subjective from within a person.
In this strongly argued article, Nagel first outlines the various standpoints of thinking that life by itself is absurd and is a journey towards nowhere and clearly disputes the ordinary reasons that have been given for thinking that life is absurd. Nagel in this article rejects the notion held by many that life is absurd because nothing that is done today will matter in the distant future. In response to this, he argues that things of the distant future have nothing to do with the present, and, therefore, is insufficient to point out the absurdity of life. Nagel goes on to attack other reasons that makes people think that life is absurd. Human attributes such as brevity and size as compared to the nature should not be the basis of judging the absurdity of life as Nagel put across. He makes it clear that the human hugeness or infinite life would not reduce the fact of absurdity in life.
Nagel goes on to show that life indeed is absurd and its absurdity arises from the fact that people takes life too seriously and there is various mismatch of the reality and what people perceive reality needs to be or their aspirations. Nagel finally advises that absurdity ought not to be taken as a threatening problem
Critical reflection of “The Absurd”
In his article, ‘The Absurd’, Thomas Nagel offers a compelling ground to think that life by itself is absurd. He goes on to assert that absurdity exists when people perceive it. Though absurdity exists, it does not depend on people’s perception as argued by Thomas Nagel. He suggests that it exists only when one perceives it.
In this article Thomas Nagel sets out his belief of problems of life’s meaning and argues that the problem of life was the ones that caused absurdity. He further outlines various grounds of what absurdity entailed. Some scholars think that Nagel confused the epistemological problem of meaning of life with metaphysical problem of the meaning life. Nagel makes it clear that absurdity does not result in any form of defiance nor distress. He stresses that since absurdity and the perception of absurdity arises due to people’s interest in knowing it ought not to be a source of stress and other withdrawal behaviors. Nagel notes that there is no way a human being can avoid absurdity in life as long as he or she have the capacity of self-conscious and can contemplate the meaning of his or her life.
Personally, I agree with Nagel’s assertions to a certain degree. Life is indeed absurd and this absurdity is attributable to the various problems that plague every single human being. In many occasions human beings go thorough problems some of which appear to have right out of nowhere. It is at such instances that the absurdity of life is exhibited. I am also in agreement with Nagel’s suggestion that in in addition to life problems, absurdity also arises when people take life too seriously. No one knows what the future holds an in light of this, I think that it is only fair that we concentrate on the present. Doing this will definitely make life to be less absurd than it already appears to be!