On behalf of Carolina Sartorio, who's writing a paper on a new kind of luck, I'm posting, with her permission, her core motivating cases in order to see what people's intuitions are. In each case, I am giving Carolina's report of what our intuitions likely are, but I do not include her analyses. Do you share the basic intuitions? Why or why not?
CASE 1: I want an explosion E to occur. I have good reason to believe that
pressing button A will trigger an explosive that will result in E. I press A and
CASE 2: This time three buttons (A, B, and C) need to be pressed for the
explosive to be triggered and thus for E to occur. Two other responsible
agents independently press B and C while I press A (each of us knew about
the buttons, had good reason to believe that the others would press the other
buttons, and acted with the intention that E occurs). E occurs.
We tend to think: (1) I am significantly less responsible for E in CASE 2 than in CASE 1.
Compare, in particular, CASE 2 with:
CASE 3: Again, there are three buttons and three fully informed and
responsible agents, but this time pressing any of the buttons would be
sufficient to bring about E. I press A, and the two other agents press B and C.
In contrast with CASE 2, here we tend to think that each of us is “fully” responsible
(as responsible as we would have been if we had acted on our own).
But now consider one last scenario:
CASE 4: As in CASE 2, three buttons need to be pressed for E to occur.
However, this time I have good reason to believe that the other two buttons,
B and C, will be automatically pressed in the next few seconds, as a result of
some purely mechanical, irreversible process. I press A and E occurs.
It seems to me that we want to say:(2) I am, at best, slightly less responsible for E in CASE 4 than in CASE 1.