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Principles of protection: a formal approach for evaluating dose distribution
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6388-8674
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0071-3919
2006 (English)In: Journal of Radiological Protection, ISSN 0952-4746, E-ISSN 1361-6498, Vol. 26, no 1, 69-84 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

 One of the central issues in radiation protection consists in determining what weight should be given to individual doses in relation to collective or aggregated doses. A mathematical framework is introduced in which such assessments can be made precisely in terms of comparisons between alternative distributions of individual doses. In addition to evaluation principles that are well known from radiation protection, a series of principles that are derived from parallel discussions in moral philosophy and welfare economics is investigated. A battery of formal properties is then used to investigate the evaluative principles. The results indicate that one of the new principles, bilinear prioritarianism, may be preferable to current practices, since it satisfies efficiency-related properties better without sacrificing other desirable properties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 26, no 1, 69-84 p.
Keyword [en]
article, human, radiation dose, radiation protection, risk assessment, statistical model
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5685DOI: 10.1088/0952-4746/26/1/004ISI: 000236778700011PubMedID: 16522945Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-33744481537OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-5685DiVA: diva2:10131
Note
QC 20101124Available from: 2006-05-10 Created: 2006-05-10 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ethical aspects of radiation protection
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethical aspects of radiation protection
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

This aim of this thesis is to examine ethical aspects of radiation protection from ionizing radiation. Radiation protection is the professional field that deals with the protection of humans and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation. The field is based on scientific knowledge of the health effects of radiation, but also on ethical value judgements.

This thesis consists of a summary and three essays. Essay 1 gives an overview of ethical issues in radiation protection. Based on this overview four ethical problem areas are identified as central for radiation protection. The first are ethical problems related to uncertainty and the influence of value judgements, especially in scientific risk assessment. The second problem area is ethical issues regarding distributions of risks and benefits between different individuals, both in space and time. The third general problem area is related to limit-setting. A major problem here is how to set limits in an ethically justifiable way when there is no known level of exposure that is associated with a zero risk. The fourth area concerns procedural justice and social decision-making in radiation protection. Essay 2 discusses ethical problems related to the proposal that individual risks below a certain level should be excluded from the system of radiation protection, without any regard to the number of people exposed. It is concluded that there are at least three problems associated with disregarding very small risks: (1) that many small risks to an individual may add up to a large risk for that individual, (2) that many small risks to many individuals may add up to a large expected value of harm, and (3) that a small risk each to many individuals may add up to a large probability that several people are harmed. It is also argued that the proposal is hard to justify in a rights-based ethical setting. Essay 3 examines what makes one distribution of individual doses better than another. This is done by creating a mathematical framework, based on preference logic, in which such assessments of can be made precisely in terms of comparisons between alternative distributions of individual doses. Principles from radiation protection and from parallel discussions in moral philosophy and welfare economics are defined using this framework and then analysed on basis of their formal properties. The analysis shows that there can be efficiency-related problems with a strict application of individual dose constraints. It is concluded that a principle that assigns extra weight to individual doses exceeding a certain limit, in proportion to the size of the excess dose, may be preferable to the standard combination of principles in radiation protection, since it satisfies efficiency related properties better without sacrificing other desirable properties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. xvii p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
Keyword
Radiation, risk, ethics
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3946 (URN)91-7178-332-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2006-05-22, Seminarierummet, Avd för filosofi, KTH, Teknikringen 78, Stockholm, 10:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101124Available from: 2006-05-10 Created: 2006-05-10 Last updated: 2010-11-24Bibliographically approved
2. Ethical Aspects of Radiation Risk Management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethical Aspects of Radiation Risk Management
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is based on the assumption that the intersection of moral philosophy and practical risk management is a rewarding area to study. In particular, the thesis assumes that concepts, ideas, and methods that are used in moral philosophy can be of great benefit for risk analysis, but also that practices in risk regulation provide a useful testing ground for moral philosophical theories. The thesis consists of an introduction and five articles.

Article I is a review article on social and ethical aspects of radiation protection related to nuclear power generation. The paper concludes that four areas of social and ethical issues stand out as central: The first is uncertainty and the influence of value judgments in scientific risk assessments. The second is the distributions of risks and benefits between different individuals, in both space and time. The third is the problem of setting limits when there is no known level of exposure associated with a zero risk. The fourth is related to stakeholder influence and risk communication.

Article II discusses ethical issues related to the proposal that doses (or risks) below a certain level should be excluded from the system of radiation protection, without any regard for the number of people exposed. Different arguments for excluding small radiation doses from regulation are examined and a possible solution to the problem of regulating small risks is proposed in the article: Any exclusion of small doses (or risks) from radiation protection ought to be based on a case-by-case basis, with the condition that the expected value of harm remains small.

Article III examines what makes one distribution of individual doses better than another distribution. The article introduces a mathematical framework based on preference logic, in which such assessments can be made precisely in terms of comparisons between alternative distributions of individual doses. Principles of radiation protection and from parallel discussions in moral philosophy and welfare economics are defined using this framework and their formal properties analyzed.

Article IV argues that the ethical theory of “responsibility-catering prioritarianism” is well positioned to deal with the reasonable requirements in an ethical theory of risk. The article shows how responsibility-catering prioritarianism can be operationalized using a prioritarian social welfare function based on hypothetical utilities. For this purpose, a hypothetical utility measure called ‘responsibility-adjusted utility’ is proposed, which is based on the utility that would normally be expected given circumstances outside of the control of the individual.

Article V was written as a response to the Fukushima disaster. Several authors have called the Fukushima disaster a ‘black swan.’ However, the article argues that the hazards of large earthquakes and tsunamis were known before the accident, and introduces and defines the concept of a ‘black elephant,’ as (i) a high-impact event that (ii) lies beyond the realm of regular expectations, but (iii) is ignored despite existing evidence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 41
Keyword
radiation protection, radiological protection, nuclear power, nuclear energy, social issues, ethical issues, ethics, risk, uncertainty, value judgments, precautionary principle, distributive issues, justice, limits, prioritarianism, responsibility, egalitarianism, black swan, black elephant, risk management
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-100730 (URN)978-91-7501-460-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-09-14, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20120816Available from: 2012-08-16 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2012-08-22Bibliographically approved

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