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Risk, Chance, and Justice


The Epicurean Dealmaker, Punished by Fate, here.

Marxist rationalist C.J.F. Dillow recently published a short post illustrating a central contention of his: that ordinary people systematically misallocate praise and blame to others based on their misunderstanding of the importance of chance in human outcomes. In particular, he cites an interesting experiment:

[The researchers] split subjects into a principal and agent. The agent chose between a safe option and a lottery, and the principal then split a sum of money between himself and the agent after seeing the outcome of the lottery. They found that principals’ payments depended upon the outcome of the lottery, even though this was obviously out of the agents’ control. For example, agents who chose the safe option were paid less if the lottery won than if it didn’t.The researchers choose to explain this finding as the allocation by the principals of “unjustified blame” to the agents. Mr. Dillow finds this outcome

consistent with research… which has also found that people just can’t distinguish between luck and skill even in the elementary conditions.



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