Stealing Guilt: Freud, Twain, Augustine and the Question of Moral Luck

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Derek Stanovsky Ph.D., Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:

Abstract: This paper re-examines the philosophical debate surrounding the issue of moral luck through the lens of Freudian psychoanalytic theory. The author argues that Freud's writings on moral luck, which have not previously been discussed in this context, provide not only a cogent explanation for the reasons behind the existence of moral luck but also a compelling argument for the constitutive role played by moral luck in the formation of moral agency and moral identity. Freud's own example of a story by Mark Twain, "The First Melon I Ever Stole," is explored in this context and compared to other more typical examples of moral luck as is another example of moral luck having to do with the theft of pears drawn from the writings of St. Augustine.

Additional Information

Stanovsky, D. (2006) "Stealing Guilt: Freud, Twain, Augustine and the Question of Moral Luck." American Imago, vol. 63, no. 4: 445-461, Winter 2006. (ISSN: 0065-860X)Version of record published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Used by permission.
Language: English
Date: 2006
Moral luck, Signund Freud, Psychoanalytic theory

Email this document to