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Getting Luck Properly Under Control

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Abstract

This article proposes a new account of luck and how luck impacts attributions of credit for agents' actions. It proposes an analogy with the expected value of a series of wagers and argues that luck is the difference between actual outcomes and expected value. The upshot of the argument is that when considering the interplay of intention, chance, outcomes, skill, and actions, we ought to be more parsimonious in our attributions of credit when exercising a skill and obtaining successful outcomes, and more generous in our attributions of credit when exercising a skill but obtaining unsuccessful outcomes. Furthermore, the article argues that when agents skillfully perform an action, they deserve the same amount of credit whether their action is successful or unsuccessful in achieving the goal.

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