Is Consequential Luck Morally Inconsequential? Empirical Psychology and the Reassessment of Moral Luck

Ratio 17 (3):329-344 (2004)

Philosophical discussions of the phenomenon that has come to be known as ‘moral luck’ have either dismissed it as illusory or touted it as the evidence for doubting the probative value of our commitment to certain widely avowed views concerning interpersonal assessments of responsibility. In this discussion, we present a third, distinctive interpretation of the moral luck phenomenon. Drawing upon empirically robust results from psychological studies of judgment bias, we argue that the phenomenon of moral luck is demonstrably not illusory. What we suggest, however, is that the phenomenon ought not to be taken to countenance doubts about the standards generally taken to be regulative of assessments of interpersonal responsibility. Rather, its significance lies in foregrounding certain generally unacknowledged obstacles we face in the process of conclusively applying general valid moral standards in making specific judgments of responsibility and desert.1
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DOI 10.1111/rati.2004.17.issue-3
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