Risk Analysis

Bridging the Gap between Social Acceptance and Ethical Acceptability

Journal Article

Abstract

New technology brings great benefits, but it can also create new and significant risks. When evaluating those risks in policymaking, there is a tendency to focus on social acceptance. By solely focusing on social acceptance, we could, however, overlook important ethical aspects of technological risk, particularly when we evaluate technologies with transnational and intergenerational risks. I argue that good governance of risky technology requires analyzing both social acceptance and ethical acceptability. Conceptually, these two notions are mostly complementary. Social acceptance studies are not capable of sufficiently capturing all the morally relevant features of risky technologies; ethical analyses do not typically include stakeholders’ opinions, and they therefore lack the relevant empirical input for a thorough ethical evaluation. Only when carried out in conjunction are these two types of analysis relevant to national and international governance of risky technology. I discuss the Rawlsian wide reflective equilibrium as a method for marrying social acceptance and ethical acceptability. Although the rationale of my argument is broadly applicable, I will examine the case of multinational nuclear waste repositories in particular. This example will show how ethical issues may be overlooked if we focus only on social acceptance, and will provide a test case for demonstrating how the wide reflective equilibrium can help to bridge the proverbial acceptance‐acceptability gap.

Related Topics

Related Publications

Related Content

Site Footer

Address:

This website is provided by John Wiley & Sons Limited, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 8SQ (Company No: 00641132, VAT No: 376766987)

Published features on StatisticsViews.com are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and StatisticsViews.com express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.