On luck and modality

Jesse HILL*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The modal account of luck is the predominant account of luck in epistemology and ethics. In the first half of this paper, I discuss three possible interpretations of the modal account (proportional, distance, and density-based views) and raise objections to each. I then raise an objection to all plausible versions of the modal account, that is, that whether an event is lucky or the extent to which it is a matter of luck will depend on what initial conditions or features of the event one holds constant across nearby possible worlds. However, there is often reasonable disagreement about what the relevant initial conditions of an event are, and the modal account of luck has no means of determining which description of the event is correct. As such, the modal account is subject to a kind of reference class problem, and the view cannot actually tell us the extent to which certain events are a matter of luck.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1887
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Early online date25 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


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