In his classic paper “Moral luck,” Thomas Nagel claims that Kant denied the relevance of moral luck (i.e., Kant denied that any factor outside an agent’s control should determine how we morally appraise an agent or her actions), and that the explanation of Kant’s denial is that Kant sought to make virtue possible for everyone.
In other words, if we admit the relevance of moral luck, then perhaps some people, because of bad moral luck, could not fulfill their moral obligations or could not live generally upstanding moral lives. So Nagel in effect thinks that Kant arrived at an ethics of maxims at least in part because such an ethics, by rejecting the significance of moral luck, best enables virtue to be put within the reach of every human being. What I find fascinating about Nagel’s suggestion is that it implies that the question of how demanding morality ought to be, or how much a moral theory ought to demand of us, is itself a moral question. That is, on this interpretation, Kant denies moral luck because to acknowledge it would be unfair. Denying moral luck turns out to be an egalitarian, anti-elitist move.
In contrast, the Greeks (especially Plato, and to a lesser extent, Aristotle) clearly thought moral knowledge, and hence moral virtue proper, were not easily accessible, and were in fact only acquired after very careful and extensive conditioning or education. And as many have observed (especially in connection with Aristotle), this make virtue very much a matter of moral luck.
So I’m interested to know what people think about how we would decide among competing moral theories with respect to the degree to which moral knowledge, virtue, acting rightly, etc., are matters of moral luck according to these theories, and in particular, whether this decision ought itself be guided by theory-specific moral considerations (as Nagel claims it was for Kant), or whether there might be some theoretically-neutral way of proceeding here.