“In many cases of difficult choice the outcome cannot be foreseen with
certainty. One kind of assessment of the choice is possible in advance, but
another kind must await the outcome, because the outcome determines what
At a very minimum, people are morally judged for their character,
and this seems to be fully within their control.
But this seems wrong ,or, in any case, not the way we think of morality.
We judge people for what they actually do or fail to do, not just for what they
would have done if circumstances had been
Nagel’s bleak picture of moral judgment:
“The area of genuine agency, and therefore of legitimate moral judgment,
seems to shrink under this scrutiny to an extensionless point. Everything
seems to result from the combined influence of factors, antecedent and
posterior to action, that are not within the agent's control. Since he
cannot be responsible for them, he cannot be responsible for
Is there some possible reply to this picture?
Nagel proposes some: