Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Moral luck : control, choice, and virtue

Woodford, Nicole Frances


Nicole Frances Woodford


Nick Zangwill

Suzanne Uniacke


In this thesis I propose a solution to the problem of moral luck. It is sometimes assumed that luck has no bearing on morality. However, Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel, in their papers entitled ‘Moral Luck’, show how this assumption could be erroneous. When making moral judgements it is usually thought that we abide by the ‘Control Principle’. This principle requires any moral judgements about an individual to be made only in cases where they were in control of their actions. The problem of moral luck arises because many moral judgements appear to contradict the Control Principle.

My aims in this work are two-fold. First, I disambiguate concepts of luck and moral luck by conceptualising both in light of a Hybrid Account of Luck (HAL). In order to understand moral luck, the concept of luck itself needs to be understood. I begin by distinguishing luck from similar concepts and go on to defend a particular version of HAL that can be adapted to identify genuine cases of moral luck.

Second, I propose a possible solution to the problem of moral luck based primarily on a critique of some of Nagel’s basic presuppositions regarding the issue in conjunction with a defence of Terence Irwin’s interpretation of Aristotle’s complex theory of moral responsibility. By giving a number of examples, I hope to establish that there is circumstantial moral luck and resultant moral luck, and that Aristotle’s conditions for moral responsibility can provide an adequate justification for praise and blame in these cases.


Woodford, N. F. (2016). Moral luck : control, choice, and virtue. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 5, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Philosophy
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Philosophy. The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2016


Thesis (1.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2016 Woodford, Nicole Frances. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations