Pandemic Rule-Breakers, Moral Luck, and Blaming the Blameworthy

Jesse HILL*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This paper takes under consideration a piece by Roger Crisp in which he questions what the problem of moral luck can teach us about COVID-19 lockdown rule-breakers. Taking the position that although such rule-breakers might seem to be new examples of moral luck, Crisp ends up denying the existence of moral luck and argues that moral luck is an outdated notion in so far as it relies on other questionable aspects of morality, that is, retributivist punishment and blame. Although the author agrees with Crisp that pandemic rule-breaker cases are putative examples of resultant moral luck, he proposes that Crisp has misconstrued what moral luck is and the paper examines in detail what he sees as the numerous problems with Crisp's claims. The author concludes that Crisp's analysis of pandemic rule-breaking does not shed any new light on the moral luck debate, and the difficult questions of luck, moral responsibility, and desert are not so easily resolved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022.


  • blame
  • COVID-19
  • moral luck
  • moral responsibility
  • retributivist punishment


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