Taken to the extreme, this thought amounts to the view that the only
thing that determines the moral value of an act is the agent’s
But, as it turns out, “what we do depends in many more ways than these on
what is not under our control. And external influences in this broader range
are not usually thought to excuse what is done from moral judgment,
positive or negative.”
A straight-forward example of this: whether we succeed or fail in what
we aim at doing is often beyond our control or at least partially
determined by chance.
And often whether we succeed or fail is morally significant (i.e. it affects
the moral assessment of an action).
Also, the choices and opportunities (for good or evil) one has is
determined to a large extent by chance.
“Where a significant aspect of what someone does depends on factors
beyond his control, yet we continue to treat him in that respect as an
object of moral judgment, it can