Moral Responsibility—and Luck?—in International Politics

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Unlike considerations of agency and structure, the role of luck in attributions of moral responsibility in international politics has been sorely neglected. This chapter aims to redress this neglect by exploring the idea of “moral luck,� a purposely paradoxical concept introduced by Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel, in relation to institutional agents as the objects of moral responsibility judgements. Specifically, this chapter suggests that luck can affect the nature of agents’ choices, the consequences of their actions, and, perhaps most profoundly, their very character and the way they define themselves, thereby infusing our ethical analyses of practical problems ranging from climate change to protecting vulnerable populations from mass atrocity. The crucial question that accompanies this proposal is whether acknowledging the influence of luck threatens to shift the ground upon which our evaluations of moral responsibility rest, or, instead, simply affords a more nuanced and accurate account of the existing landscape.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory
    Editors Chris Brown and Robyn Eckersley
    Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Edition1st edition
    ISBN (Print)9780198746928
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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