Philosophy and Public Affairs 50 (1):50-89 (2022)

Authors
Johanna Thoma
London School of Economics
Abstract
Precautionary principles are frequently appealed to both in public policy and in discussions of individual decision-making. They prescribe omission or reduction of an activity, or taking precautionary measures whenever potential harmful effects of the activity surpass some threshold of likelihood and severity. One crucial appeal of precautionary principles has been that they seem to help guard against procrastinating on confronting certain kinds of risk. I raise a challenge for precautionary principles serving as effective action-guiding tools to guard against (policy) inaction, procrastination, or recklessness. Since risks that are sufficiently harmful and sufficiently likely to fulfil the antecedent of a precautionary principle typically accumulate over time, precautionary principles are only effective if they constrain an agent’s decision-making over time. On the basis of this observation, I argue for two claims. First, to yield the verdicts proponents of precautionary principles would like to make, precautionary principles must be understood to be diachronic principles, which requires some added structure to how they are commonly formulated. Second, such diachronic precautionary principles invite policy procrastination and inaction in their own right, due to both the vagueness of thresholds, and because agents will often fail to abide by the principles if they ignore bygone risks.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/papa.12204
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,091
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

Caution and Necessity.José Edgar González Varela - 2013 - Manuscrito 36 (2):229-261.
Struggling with Time: A Rousseauian Caution to the Politics of Becoming.Mabel Wong - 2012 - Contemporary Political Theory 11 (2):172-191.
Reduction and Renormalization.Robert Batterman - 2006 - In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 159--179.
Implications of Moral Uncertainty: Implausible or Just Unpalatable?Mike King - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (7):451-452.
Maxwell Gravitation.Neil Dewar - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (2):249-270.
The Reality of Moral Expectations: A Note of Caution.Michael Smith - 2000 - Philosophical Explorations 3 (3):232 – 238.
Negotiating with Myself.Johanna Thoma - 2016 - LSE Philosophy Blog.
The Consistency of Inconsistency.Tzuchien Tho - 2008 - Symposium 12 (2):70-92.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-11-20

Total views
67 ( #171,098 of 2,506,174 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
17 ( #49,569 of 2,506,174 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes