“On a supposed right to lie [to the public] from benevolent motives” Communicating health risks to the public


Abstract
There are three main categories of rationale for withholding information or telling lies: if overwhelming harm can only be averted through deceit; complete triviality such that it is irrelevant whether the truth is told; a duty to protect the interests of others. Public health authorities are frequently having to form judgements about the public interest, whether to release information or issue warnings. In June 1992, routine surveillance detected patulin levels (a known carcinogen) in samples of apple juice exceeding safety threshold. Remedial actions were promptly taken and it was planned to subsequently publish the information in the routine way. However, the media portrayed the handling of the problem as a conspiracy and there was a short term reduction in juice sales. In October 1995, the UK Committee on Safety of Medicines issued a warning about certain brands of the contraceptive pill, based on the interim results of three unpublished studies. The increased risk of thromboembolism was small, but the resulting scare led to an increase in unwanted pregnancies. The handling of the B.S.E. crisis in the U.K. also led to accusations of incompetence or conspiracy. Public health authorities have to handle uncertainty and frequently have to form judgements for public safety on the basis of evidence of poor quantity and quality. Their task is not helped by the sometimes conflicting agenda of scientists and media. The public also have differing perceptions and interpretations of risk. The series of scares and crises are having a detrimental effect on public confidence in public health authorities
Keywords communication  public  public health  risks  warnings
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1026585019832
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 45,461
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Food And The Public’s Health.Angus Dawson - 2007 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (3):225-229.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Public Health and Public Goods.Jonny Anomaly - 2011 - Public Health Ethics 4 (3):251-259.
Is Obesity a Public Health Problem?Jonny Anomaly - 2012 - Public Health Ethics 5 (3):216-221.
Epistemic Paternalism in Public Health.Kalle Grill & Sven Ove Hansson - 2005 - Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (11):648-653.
Public Health.Dean Rickles - 2010 - In Fred Gifford (ed.), Philosophy of Medicine. Elsevier.
Public Health, Ethics, and Functional Foods.Doris Schroeder - 2007 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (3):247-259.
Why 'Health' is Not a Central Category for Public Health Policy.Stephen John - 2009 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (2):129-143.
Ethics and Public Health Emergencies: Encouraging Responsibility.Matthew K. Wynia - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (4):1 – 4.
Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health.Angus Dawson & Marcel Verweij (eds.) - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
The Limits of Public Health: A Response.Mark A. Rothstein - 2009 - Public Health Ethics 2 (1):84-88.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-08-31

Total views
22 ( #412,680 of 2,280,300 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #831,662 of 2,280,300 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature