Book Review : The Myth of Luck: Philosophy, Fate, and Fortune

Jesse Lewis HILL*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsReview articleBook reviewpeer-review


The Myth of Luck: Philosophy, Fate, and Fortune. BY Steven Hales. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. Pp. xii + 222. Price £22.46.)

Steven Hales’ book is a work of popular philosophy that covers a wide range of topics from the Myth of Er to the Pixar film Finding Nemo. A merit of the book is that it is easy to read. My review will focus on the main philosophical thesis of the book, that is, that ‘luck is no more than a persistent and troubling illusion. There is no such thing as luck’ (p. 1). Luck is typically defined in terms of two necessary and jointly sufficient conditions: significance and chance. But this definition is incomplete, as these conditions are, themselves, obscure; for example, there are many ways of thinking about chance. Philosophers have defined luck's chanciness condition in terms of improbability, modal fragility, and the absence of control or skill. Hales argues that all these ways of thinking about luck are wrong and that we ought to be error theorists about luck. However, Hales’ counterexamples against current theories of luck fail and are uncharitable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-785
Number of pages4
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date16 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


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