Safety, risk acceptability, and morality

Science and Engineering Ethics 14 (3):377-390 (2008)

The primary aim of this article is to develop and defend a conceptual analysis of safety. The article begins by considering two previous analyses of safety in terms of risk acceptability. It is argued that these analyses fail because the notion of risk acceptability is more subjective than safety, as risk acceptability takes into account potential benefits in a way that safety does not. A distinction is then made between two different kinds of safety—safety qua cause and safety qua recipient—and both are defined in terms of the probability of a loss of value, though the relationship between safety and the probability of loss varies in each case. It is then shown that although this analysis is less subjective than the previously considered analyses, subjectivity can still enter into judgments of safety via the notions of probability and value. In the final section of this article, it is argued that the difference between safety and risk acceptability is important because it corresponds in significant ways to the difference between consequentialist and deontological moral viewpoints.
Keywords Safety  Risk acceptability  Subjectivity
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11948-008-9058-5
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: 46,405
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

Interpretations of Probability.Alan Hájek - 2007 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Freedom to Act.Donald Davidson - 1973 - In Ted Honderich (ed.), Essays on Freedom of Action. Routledge.
Safety is More Than the Antonym of Risk.Niklas Möller, Sven Ove Hansson & Martin Peterson - 2006 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (4):419–432.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
83 ( #105,424 of 2,286,272 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #248,623 of 2,286,272 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature