Moral luck and Computer Ethics: Gaugin at the keyboard

David Horner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


I argue that the problem of ‘moral luck’ is an unjustly neglected topic within Computer Ethics. The concept of moral luck bears down most heavily on notions of professional responsibility and the identification and attribution of responsibility. It is the immunity from luck that conventionally marks out moral value from other kinds of values such as instrumental, technical, and use values. The paper describes the nature of moral luck and its erosion of the scope of responsibility and agency. I discuss four types of moral luck and their relevance to Computer Ethics: consequential luck (luck in the way things turn out); constitutive luck (luck in character - the kind of person you are in terms of inclinations, capacities, and temperament); circumstantial luck (luck in the problems faced and decisions that have to be made); and finally luck in antecedent circumstances. Moral luck also poses a challenge to the kinds of theoretical approaches often deployed in analyzing moral questions arising from the design and implementation of information and communication technologies: consequentialism; virtue theory; and duty ethics. I claim that by considering the concept of moral luck we arrive at some valuable insights into the scope and limits of ethical theory and professional practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication8th international conference computer ethics: philosophical enquiry
Place of PublicationAthens
PublisherNomiki Bibliothiki
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9789602726549
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2009
Event8th international conference computer ethics: philosophical enquiry - Department of Archive and Library Science, Ionian Academy, Ionian University, Corfu, Greece, June 26-28 2009
Duration: 26 Jun 2009 → …


Conference8th international conference computer ethics: philosophical enquiry
Period26/06/09 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2009 Nomiki Bibliothiki


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