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Moral responsibility and the ethics of traffic safety
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The general aim of this thesis is to present and analyse traffic safety from an ethical perspective and to explore some conceptual and normative aspects of moral responsibility. Paper I presents eight ethical problem areas that should be further analysed in relation to traffic safety. Paper II is focused on the question of who is responsible for traffic safety, taking the distribution of responsibility adopted through the Swedish policy called Vision Zero as its starting point. It is argued that a distinction should be made between backwardlooking and forward-looking responsibility and that Vision Zero should be understood in terms of this distinction. Paper III discusses responsibility ascriptions in relation to public health problems like obesity and lung cancer. It is argued that what makes discussions about who is responsible for such problems complicated is that we have two aims when ascribing responsibility to someone. First, we want responsibility ascriptions to be fair and morally justified. Second, we also want to achieve progress and solve problems through ascribing responsibility to someone. It is argued that the two aims influence debates concerning who is responsible for problems like obesity and lung cancer and that we should attempt at striking a balance that is both perceived as fair and that is efficient. Paper IV discusses two potential arguments against the suggestion that alcohol interlocks should be mandatory in all cars, namely 1) that it displaces the responsibility of individual drivers, and 2) that it constitutes a paternalistic interference with drivers. The first objection is found unconvincing, while the second only has limited bite and may be neutralized if paternalism is accepted for the sake of greater net liberty. It is argued that if technological development can make mandatory interlocks cost-efficient, the policy seems a commendable public health measure. In Paper V, the question discussed is to what extent individuals should be ascribed moral responsibility for the environmentally damaging consequences of their actions. It is argued that responsibility depends on the reasonableness of the alternatives open to an individual when acting. The lack of reasonable alternatives should reduce the degree of individual responsibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2008. , p. viii, 22
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
Keyword [en]
moral responsibility, ethics, traffic safety, public health, environment
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4670ISBN: 978-91-7178-815-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4670DiVA: diva2:13354
Public defence
2008-04-03, Sal F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100831Available from: 2008-03-18 Created: 2008-03-18 Last updated: 2010-08-31Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Ethics of Traffic Safety
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Ethics of Traffic Safety
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8115 (URN)
Note
QS 20120328Available from: 2008-03-18 Created: 2008-03-18 Last updated: 2012-03-28Bibliographically approved
2. Responsibility Ascriptions and Vision Zero
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Responsibility Ascriptions and Vision Zero
2006 (English)In: Accident Analysis and Prevention, ISSN 0001-4575, E-ISSN 1879-2057, Vol. 38, no 6, p. 1113-1118Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Vision Zero is a traffic safety policy that was adopted by the Swedish Parliament in 1997. Similar policies have been adopted in Norway and Denmark. In essence, Vision Zero states that it is unacceptable for anyone to die while using the road transport system. The policy also introduces an explicit distribution of responsibility for traffic safety, in which the system designers are ultimately responsible. In this article, it is argued that the proposed new distribution of responsibility can be better understood if we distinguish between two general types of responsibility ascriptions, namely backward-looking and forward-looking responsibility ascriptions. Both types include some kind of causal responsibility and whereas backward-looking responsibility implies an element of blame, forward-looking responsibility implies potential blame, meaning that in cases where the agent who was ascribed responsibility did not achieve the expected result, we are likely to blame her. Vision Zero still ascribes backward-looking responsibility and to some degree forward-looking responsibility to individuals, but adds the explicit forward-looking responsibility of the system designers.

Keyword
responsibility, Vision Zero, traffic safety, ethics
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8116 (URN)10.1016/j.aap.2006.04.020 (DOI)000241854300011 ()2-s2.0-33749063854 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100831Available from: 2008-03-18 Created: 2008-03-18 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Responsibility Ascriptions and Public Health Problems: Who is responsible for obesity and lung cancer?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Responsibility Ascriptions and Public Health Problems: Who is responsible for obesity and lung cancer?
2006 (English)In: Journal of Public Health, ISSN 2198-1833, E-ISSN 1613-2238, Vol. 14, no 1, p. 15-19Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Discussions about who is responsible for public health problems such as obesity and smoking-related diseases are often heated. A central question concerns the extent to which individuals are responsible for the consequences of their health-impairing behaviour and whether the State and the food and tobacco industries can justifiably be said to be responsible, too. The controversy may be partly due to the two aims of responsibility ascriptions: that they should be morally justified and that they should be efficient. The primary aim of this article is to achieve more clarity in the analysis of this issue. The method used in the article is conceptual analysis in the tradition of moral philosophy. There are two major perspectives on responsibility ascriptions. First, there is the merit-based idea that responsibility should be ascribed to someone who deserves to be held accountable, e.g. because he or she voluntarily and knowingly brought about his or her own health impairment. Second, there is the consequentialist view that responsibility should be ascribed in ways that have as good effects as possible. There are two values at stake here: responsibility ascriptions in public health should satisfy criteria of moral norms or fairness as well as of efficiency. It is argued that both perspectives should be taken into account in public health policymaking. It is concluded that it is important to be aware of the two views of responsibility ascriptions in public health discussions and the policy-making process and to aim at striking a balance between the two.

Keyword
Consequentialism, Ethics, Libertarianism, Responsibility
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8117 (URN)10.1007/s10389-005-0004-6 (DOI)2-s2.0-33645369951 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100831Available from: 2008-03-18 Created: 2008-03-18 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
4. Responsibility, Paternalism and Alcohol Interlocks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Responsibility, Paternalism and Alcohol Interlocks
(English)In: Ethics of Health Promotion, SpringerChapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Drink driving causes great suffering and material destruction. The alcohol interlock promises to eradicate this problem by technological design. Traditional counter-measures to drink driving such as policing and punishment and information campaigns have proven insufficient. Extensive policing is expensive and arguably intrusive. Severe punishment may be disproportionate to the risks created in most single cases. If the interlock becomes inexpensive and convenient enough, and if there are no convincing moral objections to the device, it may prove the only feasible as well as the only justifiable solution to the problem of drink driving. Taking this to heart, the former Swedish government, supported by the National Road Administration and a 2006 final report of the Alcohol Interlock Commission, proposed that interlocks should be required as standard equipment in all cars. This article assesses two possible moral objections to a policy of mandatory interlocks: 1) That it displaces the responsibility of individual drivers, and 2) that it constitutes a paternalistic interference with drivers. The first objection is found unconvincing, while the second has only limited bite and may be neutralized if paternalism is accepted for the sake of greater net liberty. If technological development can make mandatory interlocks cost-efficient, the proposed policy seems a commendable public health measure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10945 (URN)
Note
QC 20100714Available from: 2009-08-27 Created: 2009-08-27 Last updated: 2010-08-31Bibliographically approved
5. Individual Responsibility, Alternative Actions and Environmental Problems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Individual Responsibility, Alternative Actions and Environmental Problems
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8119 (URN)
Note
QS 20120328Available from: 2008-03-18 Created: 2008-03-18 Last updated: 2012-03-28Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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