David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 16 (2) (1995)
Using the example of air pollution, I criticize a restricted utilitarian view of environmental risks. It is likely that damage to health due to environmental pollution in Western countries is relatively modest in quantitative terms (especially when considering cancer and comparing such damage to the effects of some life-style exposures). However, a strictly quantitative approach, which ranks priorities according to the burden of disease attributable to single causes, is questionable because it does not consider such aspects as inequalities in the distribution of risks. Secondly, the ability of epidemiological research to identify some health effects is limited. Third, the environment has symbolic and aesthetic components that overcome a strict evaluation of damage based on the impairment of human health. It is not acceptable that priorities be set just balancing the burden of disease caused by pollution in the environment against economic constraints. As an example of a computation that inherently includes economic analysis, I refer to the proposal of an estimator of mortality in coal mining, i.e., a rate which puts deaths in the numerator and tons of coal extracted in the denominator. According to this estimator, mortality due to accidents decreased from 1.15 to 0.42 in the period 1950–1970 in the United States, for each million tons of coal extracted. However, considering the steep decline in the workforce in the same period, the traditional mortality rate (deaths over persons-time) actually increased. The proposal of a measure of mortality based on the amount of coal extracted is just one example of the attempts to influence decisions by including an economic element (productivity) in risk assessment. This paper has three purposes: One, to describe empirical research concerning the health effects of environmental pollutants; two, to discuss the scientific principles and methods used in the identification of environmental hazards; and three, to critically discuss some of the ethical principles which are applied in medicine and in the assessment and management of risk.
|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
Thomas Kenner & Karl P. Pfeiffer (1986). The Risk Concept in Medicine — Statistical and Epidemiological Aspects: A Case Report for Applied Mathematics in Cardiology. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 7 (3).
Lindsay F. Wiley (2010). Mitigation/Adaptation and Health: Health Policymaking in the Global Response to Climate Change and Implications for Other Upstream Determinants. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 38 (3):629-639.
Helen L. Treanor (2000). Health Risks and the Health Care Professional. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 3 (3):251-254.
Donald A. Brown (1987). Ethics, Science and Environmental Regulation. Environmental Ethics 9 (4):331-349.
Kristian Skagen Ekeli (2004). Environmental Risks, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics. Environmental Values 13 (4):421-448.
Jessica Pierce (2004). The Ethics of Environmentally Responsible Health Care. Oxford University Press.
M. J., S. T. & A. Maidens (1998). Symmetry Groups, Absolute Objects and Action Principles in General Relativity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 29 (2):245-272.
Kevin C. Elliott (2009). The Ethical Significance of Language in the Environmental Sciences: Case Studies From Pollution Research. Ethics, Place and Environment 12 (2):157 – 173.
E. Schuller (2004). Perception of Risk and Nanotechnology. In Baird D. (ed.), Discovering the Nanoscale. Ios.
Ulrich Heink, Robert Bartz & Ingo Kowarik (2012). How Useful Are the Concepts of Familiarity, Biological Integrity, and Ecosystem Health for Evaluating Damages by GM Crops? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 25 (1):3-17.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads4 ( #251,104 of 1,098,129 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #283,807 of 1,098,129 )
How can I increase my downloads?