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The Price of Precaution and the Ethics of Risk

The Price of Precaution and the Ethics of Risk by Christian Munthe
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Christian Munthe undertakes an innovative, in-depth philosophical analysis of what the idea of a precautionary principle is and should be about. A novel theory of the ethics of imposing risks is developed and used as a foundation for defending the idea of precaution in environmental and technological policy making against its critics, while at the same time avoiding a number of identified flaws. The theory is shown to have far-reaching practical conclusions for areas such as bio-, information- and nuclear technology, and global environmental policy in areas such as climate change. The author argues that, while the price we pay for precaution must not be too high, we have to be prepared to pay it in order to act ethically defensible. A number of practical suggestions for precautionary regulation and policy making are made on the basis of this, and some challenges to basic ethical theory as well as consumerist societies, the global political order and liberal democracy are identified.

Munthe’s book is a well-argued contribution to the PP debate, putting neglected justificatory and methodological questions at the forefront. His many discussions of alternative accounts as well as his drawing out the consequences of his own suggestion in practical cases give the reader a thorough, holistic sense of what justification of PP amounts to. /..../ Munthe’s main case, his argumentation for the requirement of precaution as a moral norm, is convincing and puts a strong pressure on too narrow alternative suggestions on how it should be perceived and justified, and he launches a plausible defence of its practical usability.

Springer Netherlands; May 2011
195 pages; ISBN 9789400713307
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Title: The Price of Precaution and the Ethics of Risk
Author: Christian Munthe
 
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