Technological Moral Luck

Michael Kühler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


It is a pervasive feature of today’s life that we rely more and more on technology when making decisions. For example, we often “blindly” follow the instructions of navigation systems when driving. Letting the navigation system “take control” is precisely one of the main reasons to use such a technology in the first place because we usually do not have the time to determine the best route ourselves, especially given the current traffic situation. Moreover, we may even have developed a tendency to see ourselves as less responsible or even to shun responsibility altogether because of this lack of control, like when we say that it was not really us who made the decision but the navigation system. In this paper, I address this claim about our diminished or even lacking moral responsibility when relying on technology in our decision-making. For, if it could be shown that by relying on technology we, indeed, lose a morally relevant form of control, but that we are or should be held responsible for our decisions and their consequences nonetheless, this moral practice would include more and more cases of moral luck, i.e. we would be held morally responsible for things beyond our control. I propose to dub such instances technological moral luck and argue that the stronger we understand the underlying control principle for moral responsibility, the more we will have to accept that moral responsibility becomes a matter of moral luck if we still want to hold agents morally responsible when they rely on technology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnology, Anthropology, and Dimensions of Responsibility
EditorsBirgit Beck, Michael Kühler
Place of PublicationStuttgart
PublisherJ.B. Metzler Verlag
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-476-04896-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-476-04895-0
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

PublisherJ.B. Metzler
ISSN (Print)2524-5902
ISSN (Electronic)2524-5910


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