Ethical aspects of risk management

Abstract: The subject of this thesis is ethical aspects of risk management. It is argued that a model for risk management needs to be developed that acknowledges several ethical aspects and most crucial among these, the individual’s right not to be unfairly exposed to risks. Article I takes as its starting point the demand frequently expressed in the risk literature for a consistent risk management. Such consistency is often assumed to be in accordance with some kind of cost-benefit analysis. It is maintained that such a model, here called the Standard Model, does not respect the rights of the individual. Two alternative models are outlined in order to better deal with this ethical weakness, the Model of Inviolable Rights and the Model of Procedural Justice. The arguments in the alternative models evolve around the separateness of individuals, rights and fair risk taking. It is claimed that the latter model, which focuses on a fair procedure, seems most fruitful to develop. Article II is a discussion of the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) conflict, which is well known from situations of siting potentially risky facilities. Of special concern is to investigate what the ethical premises are behind the negative characterization of the NIMBY concept. It is argued that, contrary to the assumption that the total benefit should outweigh the individual’s cost, individuals in siting scenarios have rights not to be unfairly exposed to risks. Article III, which is co-authored with Professor Sven Ove Hansson, presents a three party model as a tool for ethical risk analysis. It is argued that ethical dimensions need to be acknowledged in the analysis of risks and that this is best done through a discussion of three parties that are involved in risk decisions – the risk-exposed, the beneficiary, and the decisionmaker. Seven crucial ethical questions are recognized and discussed regarding the relation between these parties. By using examples from the railway sector it is shown how the questions can be used to identify salient ethical features of risk management problems.