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Title: Risk Impositions, Genuine Losses, and Reparability as a Moral Constraint
Author(s): HAYENHJELM, Madeleine
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 25    Issue: 3   Date: 2018   
Pages: 419-446
DOI: 10.2143/EP.25.3.3285424

Abstract :
What kind of moral principle could be sufficiently restrictive to avoid the kind of large-scale risks that have resulted in catastrophe in the past, while at the same time not be so restrictive as to halt desirable progress? Is there such a principle that is not merely a precautionary principle, but one that could be based on firm moral grounds? In this article, I set out to explore a simple idea: might it be the case that reparability could serve as a moral constraint against risky policy decisions? The idea is simple, but comes in two forms. First, that it is morally wrong to impose a risk for harm that is, in principle, irreparable, such that it would bring about a permanent loss of a kind qua kind. Second, that it is morally wrong to impose a risk for a reparable (but not compensable) harm that exceeds what realistically could be repaired. I set out here to do two things. First, I describe the moral problem to be addressed for any principle-guiding decisions about risk. A central claim in this article is that risk decisions are epistemically impaired decisions, and that we must, alongside outcome uncertainty, also take both epistemic uncertainty and moral uncertainty into account. Second, I introduce the idea of reparability as a moral constraint in the form of two versions of the Reparability Principle. Such a principle, I argue, could have some interesting advantages that seem both morally intuitive and that come with some advantages against some of the epistemic challenges posed by risk impositions.

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