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The Glass Shatters and Ducks Turn into Rabbits: Bad Faith and Moral Luck

  • Matthew King (a1)

This article shows how the “problem of moral luck” and Sartre's concept of “bad faith” are mutually illuminating, since both have to do with confusions about how much we control, or are controlled by, our situations. I agree with three recent proposals that the problem of moral luck results from certain epistemic malfunctions. However, I argue that the problem cannot be dissolved by overcoming these malfunctions because they are rooted in bad faith. Against the currently dominant interpretation, I argue that bad faith is an inescapable condition of human being because, while we are both free and factical, we can only exist as one or the other at once (much as a “duck-rabbit” drawing can only be seen as duck or rabbit), thus always keeping an aspect of our nature hidden (though in plain sight) from ourselves.

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Catalano, Joseph 1997a “Good and Bad Faith: Weak and Strong Notions.” In Existentialist Ethics. Edited by McBride, W.. New York: Garland, pp. 117–29.
Catalano, Joseph 1997b “Successfully Lying to Oneself: A Sartrean Perspective.” In Existentialist Ethics. Edited by McBride, W.. New York: Garland, pp. 145–66.
Domsky, Darren 2004There Is No Door: Finally Solving the Problem of Moral Luck.” The Journal of Philosophy, 101, 9: 445–64.
Harman, Gilbert 1999Moral Philosophy Meets Social Psychology: Virtue Ethics and the Fundamental Attribution Error.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 99: 315–31.
Nagel, Thomas 1979 “Moral Luck.” In Mortal Questions. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 2438.
Royzman, Edward, and Kumar, Rahul 2004Is Consequential Luck Morally Inconsequential? Empirical Psychology and the Reassessment of Moral Luck.” Ratio, 17: 329–44.
Santoni, Ronald 1995 Bad Faith, Good Faith, and Authenticity in Sartre's Early Philosophy. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Sartre, Jean-Paul 1966 Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. Translated by Barnes, Hazel E.. New York: Washington Square.
Sartre, Jean-Paul 1992 Notebooks for an Ethics. Translated by Pellauer, David. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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