Hastings Center Report 42 (4):20-23 (2012)

Peter H. Schwartz
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis
Imagine you fly home from vacation with your one-and-a-half-year-old son who is traveling for free as a “lap child.” In the airport parking lot, you put him into his forward-facing car seat, where he sits much more contentedly than he did in the rear-facing one that was mandatory until his first birthday. After he falls asleep on the way home, you transfer him to his crib without waking him, lowering the side rail so you can lift him in more easily. Many parts of this idyllic parenting picture are deemed unacceptably risky according to recent child safety proposals. While these proposals all aim to improve child safety, their possible impact is unclear because there has been little discussion of the absolute risk and risk reduction involved in each. And while precise figures are lacking, rough estimates indicate that the magnitudes are quite small. I will argue that this risk and benefit data raises important questions about the proposals, including whether parents might reasonably believe that the small absolute risk reduction offered by the proposed changes does not justify the attendant burdens. This possibility—termed the “prevention paradox” in other contexts—highlights ethical and theoretical challenges in this area of public health.
Keywords risk  prevention paradox
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1002/hast.37
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Safety, Risk Acceptability, and Morality.James A. E. Macpherson - 2008 - Science and Engineering Ethics 14 (3):377-390.
Prudent Precaution in Clinical Trials of Nanomedicines.Gary E. Marchant & Rachel A. Lindor - 2012 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 40 (4):831-840.
Winch and Wittgenstein on Moral Harm and Absolute Safety.Mikel Burley - 2010 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67 (2):81 - 94.
Risk, Fear, Blame, Shame and the Regulation of Public Safety.Jonathan Wolff - 2006 - Economics and Philosophy 22 (3):409-427.


Added to PP index

Total views
205 ( #42,183 of 2,348,769 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
16 ( #40,978 of 2,348,769 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes