The explicit appeal to the Control Principle in both of these lines ofreasoning shows ways in which the plausibility of Luck Egalitarianismdepends on the resolution of the problem of moral luck. It is alsonotable that some luck egalitarians attempt to draw a line betweencertain sorts of luck; for example, it is sometimes argued that if onesuffers a great financial setback due to one’s choice to engagein high-stakes gambling, then there might be circumstances in which itwould be wrong to seek to treat one in the same way as another whoseequal suffering was brought on by, say, a devastating earthquake. Itmight be that underlying this move is acceptance of a restrictedversion of the Control Principle; for example, one that allows thatone can be responsible for one's choices and their expectedconsequences, but not for the results of one's choices that are inlarge part beyond one's control. Here, too, it is clear that how oneresolves the problem of moral luck—whether one rejects thepossibility of moral luck altogether, accepts it in all forms, oraccepts certain kinds and not others—has implications for theultimate success of Luck Egalitarianism. Thus, much is at stake in theresolution of the problem of moral luck. Before turning to suggestedsolutions, a brief bit of ground-clearing will be necessary.
But if you write as if it were true, it will force you to explain any technical terms, to illustrate strange or obscure distinctions, and to be as explicit as possible when you summarize what some other philosopher said.
Ideas concerning evil have been strung along through the schools of theology, the minds of society, and the theories of philosophy throughout the history of mankind....
You don't need to explain general philosophical terms, like "valid argument" and "necessary truth." But you should explain any technical terms you use which bear on the specific topic you're discussing.
A variant of this strategy employs the idea that one can justifydifferential treatment of, say, the negligent driver who hitsa child and one who does not, even if both are equally morallyblameworthy. For example, Henning Jensen (1984) argues that while bothare equally culpable, there are consequentialist reasons for notsubjecting the first negligent driver to the same degree of blamebehavior. Since we all take some risks, and some are lesslikely to lead to harm than others, to blame everyone for simplytaking such risks would require such a high standard of care as torisk destroying our ability to function as moral agents. On the otherhand, requiring punishment for or compensation from those who do causeharm is required to provide a “restorative value” forthose agents and preserve their integrity.
It is also important to note that the implications of the status ofthe Control Principle for the law are not limited to results. Forexample, if we accept the Control Principle in unqualified form, andaccept the premise constraining justified punishment to that for whichpeople are morally blameworthy, then it might turn out that no one ismorally blameworthy and so no punishment is ever justified.
Now the line of reasoning sketched above that rejects any trackingof results in punishment depends not only on the Control Principle (ora modified version of it), but also on a thesis that limits justifiedpunishment to the proper objects of moral blameworthiness. Both ofthese premises can, and have been, questioned. But the debate inlegal theory about whether results should make a difference topunishment very often centers on the premise about control, and thus,the status of the Control Principle has important implications for thelegal debates concerning differential punishment for attempts andcompleted crimes. (On this debate, see, for example, Alexander,Ferzan, and Morse (2009) Davis (1986), Feinberg (1995), Herman (1995),Kadish (1994), Lewis (1989), Moore (1997 and 2009), Ripstein (1999),and Yaffe (2010). On luck and tort law, see Waldron (1995), and for awide-ranging discussion of moral luck and the law, Enoch (2010).)
Whether or not we accept, reject, or qualify the Control Principle hasimplications for the law, and for punishment in particular. Thequestion of how resultant luck should affect punishment has beendebated at least since Plato (The Laws IX, 876–877). According to theControl Principle, if results are not in our control, then ourattributions of moral responsibility and blameworthiness should not beaffected by them. And if, in addition, justified punishment tracksmoral blameworthiness, then the degree of punishment allotted forcrimes should not be based even in part on results. H.L.A. Hart putsthis conclusion in the form of a rhetorical question: “Whyshould the accidental fact that an intended harmful outcome has notoccurred be a ground for punishing less a criminal who may be equallydangerous and equally wicked?” (1968, 129). It turns out,however, that the idea that results should not be taken into accountin determining punishment is in direct tension with a variety ofcriminal laws, including, for example, the differential punishmentaccorded attempted murder and murder in the United States. It is alsoin direct tension with parts of the tort law in the United States suchas the differential treatment accorded the merely negligent person andthe negligent person whose negligence leads to harm. Interestingly,however, the Model Penal Code takes a different approach for at leastsome offenses, prescribing the same punishment for attempts andcompleted crimes. (Model Penal Code § 2.05 cmt. at 293–95(Official Draft and Revised Comments 1985). And this approach isfavored by a number of legal theorists.
Distinguishing between the various notions of moral assessment allowsfor the possibility that the Control Principle should be read asapplying to some, but not to other forms of moral assessment. Forexample, some argue that there is a perfectly acceptable form of moralluck which does not conflict with the true spirit of the ControlPrinciple, namely, luck in what you are responsible for(e.g., Richards 1986, Zimmerman 2002). For example, it will be readilyadmitted by many that the successful murderer can be responsible for adeath, whereas the one who unsuccessfully attempts murder is notresponsible for a death. At the same time, both could beequally responsible, or blameworthy, in degree (Zimmerman2002, 560) or both could be equal in their moral worth (Richards 1986,171, Greco 1995, 91). If the most important kind of moral assessmentis, say, one's moral worth, then the Control Principle can be suitablyrestricted to apply to assessments of moral worth. As will becomeclear, a number of responses to the problem of moral luck appeal tothe general strategy of distinguishing among different forms of moralassessment. Most focus on two families of moral assessment: (i) thefamily that includes responsibility, blame, and praise for actionsand/or for one's own traits or dispositions, and (ii) the family thatincludes the notion of the moral worth of an agent and the moralquality of her character. (But see Zimmerman 2006 for a recentdiscussion of luck and deontic judgments.)
If this is right, then we could not simply revise our everyday moraljudgments in accordance with a more diligent application of theControl Principle; at best, if we adhere to the Control Principle, weshould refrain from making any moral judgments. Not everyone sharesthis skepticism, and there is naturally a wide variety of responses tothe challenge of how to reconcile our adherence to the ControlPrinciple with our everyday judgments that commit us to the existenceof moral luck. At stake are not only our seemingly ubiquitouspractices of moral praise and blame, but also the resolution of othercentral debates in ethics, philosophy of law, and politicalphilosophy.