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Analysis of Moral Luck Views of Aristotle and Epictetus.

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Analysis of Moral Luck Views of Aristotle and Epictetus by Selim Cillov U62-01-2757 Aristotle, the founder of western science, and Epictetus, one of the greatest stoicists, both has their theories for the issue of "Moral Luck". To have a basic idea about the topic, I believe we should describe it from a non-philosophical point of view. After doing that we can compare both Aristotle's and Epictetus' points of views and distinguish between them with examples from "Into Thin Air"(ITA), written by Jon Krakauer. Moral Luck, if described from general perspective, consists of the actions that happen by luck and result in moral ends. What I mean by moral ends is the situations that have something to do with moral or ethical values. Overall, moral luck deals with all the issues concerned with assertion of praise and blame, deliberation of responsibility, and things that are not in our control such as place of birth, our parents, our nationality and so on. Although they both have this structure in common, both Aristotle and Epictetus have different arguments about moral luck. Both Aristotle and Epictetus have a single point in common. They both have the idea of luck. Aristotle describes this as things that are not in our control and Epictetus describes this as things that are not up to us. The distinction between them is simple. Something that is not in our control can be up to us. However, something that is up to us must be in our control. ...read more.


You wouldn't climb it alone by yourself in bad weather conditions if you were not a very skilful climber-and even the most skilful fail. There is no doubt that climbing Everest is a voluntary action performed for a noble purpose. Even though the conditions are in favor, you cannot predict anything about the mountain. So what we have is a group of people performing a voluntary action. Being the result of a voluntary action, the consequences should be faced, just like an action should be done voluntarily, to be praised or blamed. So, voluntary actions are in our control. Even though we cannot predict the exact conditions, we know that there is a possibility of bad things happening in Everest and we must take these small possibilities into account. This makes us responsible for our actions even though if we are in a situation we do not know much about. Second situation I want to examine is Rob Hall's death. Let's summarize it briefly. Rob Hall, the guide of the tour, was with Hansen. Early in the morning he called for help, saying that Hansen was out of oxygen and he needed oxygen fast. In the Base Camp, Cotter and the others were almost sure that Hansen was dead already. Telling Hall that he cannot think healthy, Cotter asked Hall to descend. Hall, on the other hand, would not consider leaving his client there and going back. He was not aware of the fact that his client, Hansen, was already dead. ...read more.


So, if someone is going to climb Everest, then it means that s/he considered these possibilities. That makes them responsible for their own actions and diminishes the fact of luck. The second situation we examined from ITA was Rob Hall's death. Rob Hall decided to stay in the Southern Summit. He made this decision. He should bare the consequences. Since Epictetus' philosophy is for disastrous situations and since this is one of them, Epictetus' philosophy fits in the context better than Aristotle's. Epictetus says if we live by his handbook we will be in good health. Let's take a look at Rob Hall's violations of the handbook. Rob Hall tries to change faith. He tries to save his client who only has a slightest chance of living. By doing so, he tries to control things that are not up to him. If you want something that is not up to you and do not get it, you are misfortunate then. Rob Hall is misfortunate here then. Also, Rob Hall's judgment of the current situation was blurred. He was not thinking properly, therefore not judging properly. All of these facts considered, Rob Hall, in this case, is responsible for his actions. Now that we examined both Aristotle's and Epictetus' perspectives, we can make a distinction between them. Aristotle is dealing with everyday philosophy and has a less strict perspective. On the other hand, Epictetus is a philosopher who is dealing with disastrous situations and has a strict perspective when compared to Aristotle. Both of their philosophies have a common base, idea of luck, but have a different continuation. I ...read more.

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