Moral Luck

  • øyvind Kvalnes
Open Access


The concept of moral luck appears to be an oxymoron, since it indicates that the right-or wrongness of a particular action can depend on the agent’s good or bad luck. That goes against the assumption that the moral quality of our conduct, the praise-and blameworthiness of what we do, should only hinge on factors that are within our own control. It seems unreasonable to let the moral verdict of someone’s decision and action depend on whether the outcome happens to be good or bad, particularly in situations where luck plays a significant part in how things turn out. In organizational life, moral luck nevertheless is a recurring phenomenon, in that actual outcomes do affect our moral evaluations of what people do. A reckless person can get away with his or her moral gamble if the outcome is good, but will get severe criticism in the likely event of a bad outcome. This chapter explores how moral luck connects to the normative theories of duty ethics and utilitarianism, and the extent to which moral evaluations based on actual outcomes are acceptable.

Copyright information

© øyvind Kvalnes 2015

Open Access This Chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • øyvind Kvalnes
    • 1
  1. 1.BI Norwegian Business SchoolNorway

Personalised recommendations