Technological risk and small probabilities

Journal of Business Ethics 4 (6):431 - 445 (1985)
Abstract
Many scientists, businessmen, and government regulators believe that the criteria for acceptable societal risk are too stringent. Those who subscribe to this belief often accept the view which I call the probability-threshold position. Proponents of this stance maintain that society ought to ignore very small risks, i.e., those causing an average annual probability of fatality of less than 10–6.After examining the three major views in the risk-evaluation debate, viz., the probability-threshold position, the zero-risk position, and the weighted-risk position, I focus on the arguments for the first of these views, since it is the position which currently undergirds most public policy (especially in the U.S.) regarding acceptable risk. After analyzing Arrow's argument from decision theory, Comar's and Gibson's argument from ontology, and Starr's and Whipple's argument from epistemology, I conclude that these defenses of the probability-threshold position err in a variety of ways. Most commonly, they fail because they tacitly accept the assumption that magnitude of probability, alone, provides a sufficient condition for judging the acceptability of a given risk. In the light of these errors, I suggest that it might be more desirable for risk assessors, decision theorists, and policymakers to weight various risk-cost-benefit parameters according to alternative ethical criteria, rather than to evaluate risks solely in terms of mathematical considerations.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,115
External links
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
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

26 ( #71,565 of 1,102,281 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #68,100 of 1,102,281 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.