Moral Luck

Moral luck seems to appear when circumstances beyond a person’s control influence his or her 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 challenging economic conditions that exposed weak financials, they might never have occurred. Deceptive accounting, employed to give the illusion of steadily increasing profitability, might have been unwound, or excessive compensation packages might not have seemed excessive. It is possible, if not probable, that such improprieties occur with some regularity in more forgiving external circumstances, rendering them unnoticed and 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 ...

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