Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Liability Insurance, Moral Luck, and Auto Accidents

18 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2007  

Tom Baker

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: June 28, 2007


Beginning with the seminal work by Williams and Nagel, moral philosophers have used auto accident hypotheticals to illustrate the phenomenon of moral luck. Moral luck occurs in the hypotheticals because (and to the extent that) two equally careless drivers are assessed differently because only one of them caused an accident. This article considers whether these philosophical discussions might contribute to the public policy debate over compensation for auto accidents. Using liability and insurance practices in the United States as an illustrative example, the article explains that auto liability insurance substantially mitigates moral luck and argues that, as a result, the moral luck literature is unlikely to make a significant contribution to this public policy debate. That debate would benefit more from philosophical analysis of victims' luck, which is not as substantially mitigated by liability insurance.

Keywords: insurance, moral luck, philosophy, automobile, torts

Suggested Citation

Baker, Tom, Liability Insurance, Moral Luck, and Auto Accidents (June 28, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Tom Baker (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-746-2185 (Phone)


Paper statistics

Abstract Views