Thomas Aquinas on moral luck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


One of the most sophisticated treatments can be found in the later writings of Thomas Aquinas, the preeminent ethical thinker of the Middle Ages. Aquinas’s approach to the problem of moral luck is somewhat different from that of contemporary thinkers. In the Disputed Questions on Evil and Summa theologiae, Aquinas raises just this sort of case to explore several questions about moral luck. Aquinas finds a new solution to the problem that still accommodates the considerations he appeals to in the earlier On Evil passage, in particular the relevance of taking advantage of the opportunity to sin. Aquinas reflects not only on resultant moral luck, or luck at the downstream end of human actions, but also on the influence of factors outside our control at the upstream end. There is, of course, a way in which agents can avoid all serious sin: through divine grace and the infused moral virtues that result from that grace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Luck
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781351258753
ISBN (Print)9780815366591
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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