An egalitarian response to utilitarian analysis of long-lived pollution: The case of high-level radioactive waste
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Environmental Ethics 22 (1):43-62 (2000)
High-level radioactive waste is not fundamentally different from all other pollutants having long life spans in the biosphere. Nevertheless, its management has been treated differently by policy makers in the United States as well as most other nations, who have chosen permanent isolation from the biosphere as the objective of high-level radioactive waste disposal policy. This policy is to be attained by burial deep within stable geologic formations. The fundamental justification for this policy choice has been provided by utilitarian ethical analysis. It, in turn, has been supported primarily by assumptions, based on expert opinion, about the ultimate safety of geologic disposal. However, close analysis of these assumptions reveals that the safety of geologic disposal is highly uncertain. Moreover, factors such as the possibility for human intrusion into repository sites make it impossible to even guess at the ultimate consequences of any policy choice pertaining to the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste. I discuss why utilitarian ethics cannot be used to determine the efficacy of such policy choices. I then develop an alternative approach which is based on egalitarian principles of procedure and utilize it to explore policy proposals which promote justice and equity in the high-level radioactive waste management process. I argue that there are two possible solutions to the high-level radioactive waste dilemma: (1) an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to create an institution to advocate on behalf of the interests of future generations and (2) the active management of the waste in monitored, retrievable facilities in perpetuity. Of these two options, I find maintaining surveillance and vigilance in perpetuity to safeguard high-level radioactive waste to be preferable because of its political and ethical efficacy
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Parker Crutchfield (2011). Representing High-Level Properties in Perceptual Experience. Philosophical Psychology 25 (2):279 - 294.
Kristin Shrader-Frechette (1991). Ethical Dilemmas and Radioactive Waste: A Survey of the Issues. Environmental Ethics 13 (4):327-343.
Mats Andren (2012). An Uncomfortable Responsibility: Ethics and Nuclear Waste. The European Legacy 17 (1):71 - 82.
Elizabeth Harman (2004). Can We Harm and Benefit in Creating? Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):89–113.
Ethan Wilding (2012). Framing Ethical Acceptability: A Problem with Nuclear Waste in Canada. Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (2):301-313.
Kristin Shrader-Frechette (1994). Equity and Nuclear Waste Disposal. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 7 (2):133-156.
Michael JG Farthing (2006). Authors and Publication Practices. Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (1):41-52.
Kristin Shrader-Frechette (1998). Ethical Theory Versus Unethical Practice: Radiation Protection and Future Generations. Ethics and the Environment 3 (2):177 - 195.
Alan Marshall (2007). Questioning Nuclear Waste Substitution: A Case Study. Science and Engineering Ethics 13 (1):83-98.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads6 ( #192,088 of 1,096,498 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #139,663 of 1,096,498 )
How can I increase my downloads?