|previous article in this issue||next article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: Risk, Science and Policy
Subtitle: A Treacherous Triangle
Author(s): HANSSON, Sven Ove
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 25 Issue: 3 Date: 2018
Decisions on risk are often frustrated by conflicts and uncertainties at the science-policy interface. This article shows that there is considerable scope for improving the decision-making process and in particular its use of science. Philosophical tools and distinctions can have a key role in eliminating or coming to grips with risk-related uncertainties. Many of the so-called scientific controversies are in fact not conflicts within science, but between science and science denial or other forms of pseudoscience. In these cases, the alleged uncertainties can be dissolved by throwing out pseudoscientific claims and fabricated controversies. A significant part of the remaining uncertainty is not decision-relevant although it seems to be so. Two simple symmetry tests are introduced for investigating whether an uncertainty is specific enough to be more troublesome for the option it has been associated with than for other options in the decision. Finally, decision theory and ethics provide means for dealing with the remaining decision-relevant scientific uncertainties. One of the ethical tools that can be used for this purpose is hypothetical retrospection. This method consists in systematically deliberating on how we will in the future evaluate the decisions that we make today, under various assumptions about other potential future developments. The purpose of this process is to come as close as possible to the ideal of making a decision that will be ethically defensible whatever happens.