You Make Your Own Luck

In Duncan Pritchard & Lee John Whittington (eds.), The Philosophy of Luck. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 107–126 (2015)
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Abstract

This essay takes up two questions. First, what does it mean to say that someone creates her own luck? At least colloquially speaking, luck is conceived as something out of an agent's control. So how could an agent increase or decrease the likelihood that she'll be lucky? Building on some recent work on the metaphysics of luck, the essay argues that there is a sense in which agents can create their own luck because people with more skill tend to have more opportunities to benefit from luck. Second, what implications does this conception of luck have for related topics such as how we evaluate performances (like shooting an arrow), including coming to know something? The ubiquitous presence of luck in our actions is often underappreciated. The essay argues that when we combine an expected outcomes view of luck with a counterfactual view of causation, the distinction between environmental and intervening veritic luck seems to disappear. We need a more nuanced view of how luck sometimes undermines credit for success in agents' actions. The upshot of this view is that while luck may undermine the creditworthiness of an agent's success, it only partially undermines creditworthiness.

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Rachel McKinnon
College of Charleston

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