Cognition 182:331-348 (2019)

Markus Kneer
University of Zürich
Moral philosophers and psychologists often assume that people judge morally lucky and morally unlucky agents differently, an assumption that stands at the heart of the Puzzle of Moral Luck. We examine whether the asymmetry is found for reflective intuitions regarding wrongness, blame, permissibility, and punishment judg- ments, whether people’s concrete, case-based judgments align with their explicit, abstract principles regarding moral luck, and what psychological mechanisms might drive the effect. Our experiments produce three findings: First, in within-subjects experiments favorable to reflective deliberation, the vast majority of people judge a lucky and an unlucky agent as equally blameworthy, and their actions as equally wrong and permissible. The philosophical Puzzle of Moral Luck, and the challenge to the very possibility of systematic ethics it is frequently taken to engender, thus simply do not arise. Second, punishment judgments are significantly more outcome- dependent than wrongness, blame, and permissibility judgments. While this constitutes evidence in favor of current Dual Process Theories of moral judgment, the latter need to be qualified: punishment and blame judgments do not seem to be driven by the same process, as is commonly argued in the literature. Third, in between-subjects experiments, outcome has an effect on all four types of moral judgments. This effect is mediated by negligence ascriptions and can ultimately be explained as due to differing probability ascriptions across cases.
Keywords moral luck  outcome effect  negligence  moral judgment  Bernard Williams  blame  punishment  hindsight bias
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DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.003
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References found in this work BETA

Moral Luck.B. A. O. Williams & T. Nagel - 1976 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 50:115-151.
Mortal Questions.[author unknown] - 1979 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 43 (3):578-578.
Mapping the Moral Domain.Jesse Graham, Brian A. Nosek, Jonathan Haidt, Ravi Iyer, Spassena Koleva & Peter H. Ditto - 2011 - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101 (2):366-385.

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Citations of this work BETA

Moral Luck.Dana K. Nelkin - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Agent‐Regret and Accidental Agency.Rachana Kamtekar & Shaun Nichols - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):181-202.

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