Cliff-top predicaments and morally blemished lives



Duff RA (2019) Cliff-top predicaments and morally blemished lives. Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies, 19 (1), pp. 125-140.

A running theme in John Gardner’s work has been a critique of “Kantian” conceptions of moral luck, and of the kinds of demand that morality makes on us: he has argued that morality makes demands on us that we might be unable to meet; that we might commit moral wrongs—wrongs that blemish our lives—through sheer bad luck, or in doing what we morally must do. In this he sides with Aristotle (insofar as we can find in, or extract from, Aristotle a conception of the “moral”)—and he is right to do so: he is right to reject the Kantian thought that (to put it crudely) a good will can guarantee you against wrongdoings and violations of duty that blemish your life. However, he over-reaches himself in this anti-Kantian argument—or so I will argue: he finds violations of duty where there are none, moral blemishes where there are none, moral wrongs where there are none. I will develop this argument by discussing three kinds of example that he has used: the examples are described in s. 1, and then discussed in turn in the following three sections.

Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies: Volume 19, Issue 1

Publication date30/06/2019
Publication date online14/06/2019
Date accepted by journal14/06/2019

People (1)


Professor Antony Duff

Professor Antony Duff

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy