Luck, blame, and desert

Philosophical Studies 169 (2):313-332 (2014)
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T.M. Scanlon has recently proposed what I term a ‘double attitude’ account of blame, wherein blame is the revision of one’s attitudes in light of another person’s conduct, conduct that we believe reveals that the individual lacks the normative attitudes we judge essential to our relationship with her. Scanlon proposes that this account justifies differences in blame that in turn reflect differences in outcome luck. Here I argue that although the double attitude account can justify blame’s being sensitive to outcome luck, it cannot justify allocating blame differently when agents with the same attitudes differ only with respect to the luck-based outcomes of their actions. However, Scanlon’s own contractualist theory of morality can be invoked to show that the double attitude account is compatible with blame-based sanctions (e.g., compensation mandated when negligence or reckless result in harm) being sensitive to outcome luck. The resultant view of blame and luck remains desert-based while making sense of the common intuition that differences in outcome luck can matter to how lucky and unlucky individuals are justifiably treated



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Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh

Citations of this work

Accepting Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2019 - In Ian M. Church & Robert J. Hartman (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Luck. New York: Routledge.
The Attributionist Approach to Moral Luck.Matthew Talbert - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):24-41.
A problem for moral luck.Steven D. Hales - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (9):2385-2403.
Salience, Imagination, and Moral Luck.Nathan Stout - 2017 - Philosophical Papers 46 (2):297-313.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.

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