Christian Munthe: The Price of Precaution

Datum: 8 april 2015
Tid: 15:15–17:15

Christian Munthe, professor i praktisk filosofi vid Göteborgs universitet, med kommentar från Olle Häggström, professor i matematisk statistik vid Chalmers.

"The Price of Precaution: Evaluating Actions Actualised by Extreme and Extremely Unclear Risks"

The ethical assessment of extreme risk- or uncertainty scenarios present peculiar and important decision problems from both a theoretical, a practical and a pragmatic policy making standpoint. As human beings get better and better at systematically imagining what might occur given some actions or policies, more and more such assessments are actualised, e.g. with regard to environmental, computer, bio-, military and nano-technology, as well as "natural" hazards, where as yet non-existent technology might provide mitigation of otherwise unavoidable massive harms. At the same time, resources are limited, human time is scarce and ethical theory basically impotent of guiding tenets as to how the management of uncertain outcomes and actions are to be assessed in normative terms.

For instance, as I write this, the Large Hadron Collider team at the CERN lab outside Geneva are making last preparation for the "beam injection" experiment, for which at least two prominent physicists have issued stern #end of the world" warnings. How should this be managed, and why? Depending on the answer, what does that imply for the implementation of, e.g. uncertain actions to counter the potential harms of climate change, the eventuality that a meteorite might hit Earth, or that our own technology shaped to manage this dangerous world of our's pulls the rug out from under our feet? (here we have everything from antimicrobial resistance to rebelling synbio AI's on the menu). Especially if we consider less distant needs, for which there exist quite workable solutions, if only the funds for their implementation are released – such as the quarter of a million children dying of starvation every month. At the same time, some of the futurustic fears may not themselves be worthy our dread – at least not if we think disciplined and ethically ablout it. The talk will dig into this mass of issues, with a particular concentration on the ethics of exploring distant (albeit potent) dangers and salvation, using the concept of the price of precaution, developed by myself in some recent writings.

Munthe, C (2011). The Price of Precaution and the Ethics of Risk. Springer SBM.

OBS! Detta seminarium kommer att hållas en annan tid än vanligt, kl. 15.15 till ca 17.15. Vi har också bjudit in en särskild kommentator till detta tillfälle, nämligen Olle Häggström, professor i matematisk statistik vid Chalmers.

Läs mer om Christian Munthe

Läs mer om Olle Häggström som i vår är aktuell med boken Here Be Dragons: Science, Technology and the Future of Humanity.

Seminariet hålls på Institutet för framtidsstudier, Holländargatan 13 i Stockholm. Ingen föranmälan krävs.



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