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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L088-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 14, 2024, from

Article Summary

Every day persons face threats from natural disasters such as hurricanes and from technological hazards such as exposure to more than 60,000 different chemicals. The increase of pervasive, human-caused hazards raises a number of philosophical issues, most notably in the areas of ethics and epistemology. There are three main classes of ethical issue associated with risk. (1) Who should define risk, and how should it be defined? (2) Who should evaluate risk, and according to which rules? (3) What are the conditions under which it is ethically acceptable to impose societal risk? Societal risks (such as those from liquefied natural gas facilities) tend to be involuntarily imposed, whereas individual risks (such as those from dietary consumption of saturated fats) are more voluntarily chosen. This discussion addresses societal, rather than individual, risks because they involve less individual choice and hence more ethical controversy.

Citing this article:
Shrader-Frechette, Kristin. Risk, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L088-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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