The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series

The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series
28 May 2019, 5.30pm - 7.15pm
Room 102 (the Philosophy Seminar Room) in UCL 19 Gordon Square

Dilemmas, Luck, and the Two Faces of Morality

Johann Frick (Princeton)


According to some philosophers, there are moral dilemmas: situations where, no matter how an agent chooses to act, her action will be morally wrong.⁠ According to some philosophers, there is moral outcome luck: how blameworthy an agent was for performing an action can depend on features of the action – namely how it turned out – that were at least partly beyond the agent’s control. In this paper, I investigate the features that make a moral view admit of moral dilemmas on the one hand, and moral luck, on the other. My conclusion is that there is a connection between these seemingly disparate normative phenomena. I argue that there is a structural property of moral views, what I call “parochial evaluation”, which explains both why a moral view admits of moral luck and why it admits of moral dilemmas. This, in turn, allows me to offer a novel argument against the view that there are genuine moral dilemmas and to defang the problem of moral outcome luck  


The Institute ofPhilosophy hosts a regular workshop series entitled ‘The Practical, the Political, and the Ethical’. The series was created in 2015 by Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL) and Hallvard Lillehammer (Birkbeck) in order to discuss work in progress from visiting speakers. This year the series is convened by Robert Simpson (UCL) and Joe Horton (UCL). The seminar generally meets on alternate Tuesdays from 5.30 to 7.15pm in the spring and summer terms. Talks are normally 50 minutes (no pre-circulation of the paper), followed by discussion. All are welcome.  


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