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Ethical Criteria of Risk Acceptance

Sven Ove Hansson
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 59, No. 3 (Nov., 2003), pp. 291-309
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20013231
Page Count: 19
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Ethical Criteria of Risk Acceptance
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Abstract

Mainstream moral theories deal with situations in which the outcome of each possible action is well-determined and knowable. In order to make ethics relevant for problems of risk and uncertainty, moral theories have to be extended so that they cover actions whose outcomes are not determinable beforehand. One approach to this extension problem is to develop methods for appraising probabilistic combinations of outcomes. This approach is investigated and shown not to solve the problem. An alternative approach is then developed. Its starting-point is that everyone has a prima facie moral right not to be exposed to risk. However, this right can be overridden if the risk-exposure is part of an equitable system for risk-taking that works to the advantage of the individual risk-exposed person.

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