Ethical aspects of risk

Venue: Delft University of Technology

Location: Delft, Netherlands

Event Date/Time: Jun 16, 2005 End Date/Time: Jun 18, 2005
Registration Date: Jun 15, 2005
Early Registration Date: Apr 01, 2005
Abstract Submission Date: Dec 01, 2005
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Ethical Aspects of Risk

14-16 June 2006
Philosophy Department, Delft University of Technology

Keynote speakers:

Ruth Chadwick
University of Lancaster

Douglas MacLean
University of North Carolina

Paul Slovic
Decision Research, Oregon

Carl Cranor
University of California Riverside

Technology has advanced human well being in a myriad of respects, such as energy, communication and abilities to travel. Still, every technology also has negative side-effects, such as risks from accidents and pollution. A standard way to judge the acceptability of a specific technology is cost-benefit analysis. However, next to the balance between the benefits and risks of a technology the following considerations seem to be important: the distribution of costs and benefits, whether a risk is voluntarily taken, whether there are available alternatives etc. How to judge whether a risk is acceptable is a pressing ethical question that deserves thorough investigation. There is a vast amount of sociological and psychological research on acceptable risks, but surprisingly, there is only very little research from moral philosophy on risks. This conference aims to fill this gap by bringing together moral philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and engineers to reflect on the ethical issues concerning ‘acceptable risk’.
The following questions will be the focus of the conference:
- What are morally legitimate considerations in judging the acceptability of risks? Is cost-benefit analysis the best way or do we need additional considerations?
- What role should emotions play in judging the acceptability of risks? Are they irrational and distorting or are they a necessary precondition for practically rational judgments?
- What role should the public play in judging the acceptability of risks (e.g. informed consent procedures analogous to medical ethics)?
- Is the precautionary principle a fruitful tool in dealing with risks?

Call for papers: abstracts due by December 1st 2005

Submit a 750 word abstract with information about academic affiliation to

For inquiries, contact the organization committee through or visit

Organization: Sabine Roeser and Lotte Asveld (Philosophy Department, Delft University of Technology); conference management: Henneke Piekhaar


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