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Luck and Decision

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Much recent work on moral responsibility and on distributive justice has addressed the concept of luck. Very little attention has been given to the relation of luck to rationality. How does luck bear on our choices? Can beliefs about luck lead to unwise decisions? These questions have particular relevance for understanding gambling behaviour, and for public policy on gambling. In this paper I argue that no one is reliably lucky, and that projecting luck can undermine rational decision-making. I give various examples to show the conceptual connection between luck and unpredictability. I present an a posteriori conception of projectibility, and argue that because lucky events are rationally unexpected, regularity statements about luck fail to satisfy the conditions of projectibility. I reject the claim that ‘lucky’ is a dispositional term, and thus projectible, on the ground that a dispositional interpretation leads to contradiction. I then defend my claim that luck is not projectible against three objections. I conclude with some thoughts about rational responses to luck, using gambling as an illustration.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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