Moral Luck

Moral luck seems to appear when circumstances beyond a person's control influence our moral attributions of praise and blame. For example, consider the apparent role of moral luck in some of the worst failures in corporate history. If not for a run-up in resource prices, corrections for overpriced technology stocks, and the specter of terrorism, they might never have occurred. Deceptive accounting, employed to give the illusion of steadily increasing profitability, might have been unwound. It is possible, if not probable, that such improprieties occur with some regularity in more forgiving external circumstances, rendering them almost harmless. One executive, imprudent though fortunate, presides over relatively inconsequential misconduct. Is this executive any less blameworthy than another, whose similar inattentiveness is exacerbated by chance circumstances beyond the ...

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