The narrator of Billy Budd makes no secret of the fact that he is well versed in philosophy. He makes allusions to both political and moral philosophies throughout the book, and he himself seems to be dominated by an overwhelming sense of fatalism. But for all the philosophical sophistication of the book, the most interesting relationship to explore is that between philosophy and practical action. Despite Vere's learning, he makes poor decisions, and one is left examining one of the most difficult philosophical questions of all: what good is philosophy?
Though Captain Vere is a philosophically sophisticated man, his experience in philosophy is useless because he does not appeal to it in Billy's case; instead, he simply hides behind his duty.
The narrator of the story is a fatalist, and this philosophical viewpoint affects how he portrays all the events that take place.