Four Kinds of Luck?

I spent some time this evening browsing an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (the “SEP.”) It’s a great resource.

I was reading was on Moral Luck. I have heard that term before, yet didn’t know a lot about it. Reading the article hasn’t helped a lot.

The author of the article claims that there are four kinds of luck: Resultant Luck, Circumstantial Luck, Constitutive Luck and Causal Luck.

As I read the descriptions of each I was waiting to see how they would be materially different from each other. You expect that there would be some real difference between them. Yet that’s not what I concluded. Here’s a one-sentence description from the article for each of the four kinds of luck:

  • Resultant luck is luck in the way things turn out.
  • Circumstantial luck is luck in the circumstances in which one finds oneself.
  • Constitutive luck is luck in who one is, or in the traits and dispositions that one has.
  • Finally, there is causal luck, or luck in “how one is determined by antecedent circumstances.”

I wrote previously that all of life comes down to luck. Isn’t it obvious that these supposedly different kinds of luck are all just manifestations of the same thing: Life doing what it does?

Maybe I’ve listened to too much Alan Watts, or smoked a bit too much weed, but it’s obvious to me that all of these four types of luck are completely explained by life just unfolding, whether that means quantum mechanics or what some ancient religions / philosophies call Brahman, the Self, the Ground of All Being, or equivalently, just God.

Author: John Sambrook

I am a grandfather, software engineer, and a change agent. I live in Kirkland, Washington, USA.

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