Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Safety is more than the antonym of risk
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0071-3919
2006 (English)In: Journal of Applied Philosophy, ISSN 0264-3758, E-ISSN 1468-5930, Vol. 23, no 4, 419-432 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Even though much research has been devoted to studies of safety, the concept of safety is in itself under-theorised, especially concerning its relation to epistemic uncertainty. In this paper we propose a conceptual analysis of safety. The paper explores the distinc-tion between absolute and relative safety, as well as that between objective and subjective safety. Four potential dimensions of safety are discussed, viz. harm, probability, epistemic uncertainty, and control. The first three of these are used in the proposed definition of safety, whereas it is argued that control should not be included in a reasonable definition of safety. It is shown that strictly speaking, an objective safety concept is not attainable. Instead, an intersubjective concept is proposed that brings us as close as possible to an objective concept.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 23, no 4, 419-432 p.
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-14332DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2006.00345.xISI: 000209004700003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-14332DiVA: diva2:332238
Note

QC 20100803

Available from: 2010-08-03 Created: 2010-08-03 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Thick Concepts in Practice: Normative Aspects of Risk and Safety
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thick Concepts in Practice: Normative Aspects of Risk and Safety
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis aims at analyzing the concepts of risk and safety as well as the class of concepts to which they belong, thick concepts, focusing in particular on the normative aspects involved.

Essay I analyzes thick concepts, i.e. concepts such as cruelty and kindness that seem to combine descriptive and evaluative features. The traditional account, in which thick concepts are analyzed as the conjunction of a factual description and an evaluation, is criticized. Instead, it is argued that the descriptive and evaluative aspects must be understood as a whole. Furthermore, it is argued that the two main worries evoked against non-naturalism – that non-naturalism cannot account for disagreement and that it is not genuinely explanatory – can be met.

Essay II investigates the utilization of the Kripke/Putnam causal theory of reference in relation to the Open Question Argument. It is argued that the Open Question Argument suitably interpreted provides prima facie evidence against the claim that moral kinds are natural kinds, and that the causal theory, as interpreted by leading naturalist defenders, actually underscores this conclusion.

Essay III utilizes the interpretation of the Open Question Argument argued for in the previous essay in order to argue against naturalistic reduction of risk, i.e. reduction of risk into natural concepts such as probability and harm. Three different normative aspects of risk and safety are put forward – epistemic uncertainty, distributive normativity and border normativity – and it is argued that these normative aspects cannot be reduced to a natural measure.

Essay IV provides a conceptual analysis of safety in the context of societal decision-making, and argues for a notion that explicitly includes epistemic uncertainty, the degree to which we are uncertain of our knowledge of the situation at hand. Some formal versions of a comparative safety concept are also proposed.

Essay V puts forward a normative critique against a common argument, viz. the claim that the public should follow the experts’ advice in recommending an activity whenever the experts have the best knowledge of the risk involved. The importance of safety in risk acceptance together with considerations from epistemic uncertainty makes the claim incorrect even after including plausible limitations to exclude ‘external’ considerations. Furthermore, it is shown that the scope of the objection covers risk assessment as well as risk management.

Essay VI provides a systematized account of safety engineering practices that clarifies their relation to the goal of safety engineering, namely to increase safety. A list of 24 principles referred to in the literature of safety engineering is provided, divided into four major categories. It is argued that important aspects of these methods can be better understood with the help of the distinction between risk and uncertainty, in addition to the common distinction between risk and probability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2009. viii, 26 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
Keyword
thick concepts, non-naturalism, open question argument, risk analysis, safety, epistemic uncertainty, values in risk assessment, safety engineering
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10421 (URN)978-91-7415-303-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-05-25, F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100803Available from: 2009-05-13 Created: 2009-05-13 Last updated: 2010-08-03Bibliographically approved
2. Safety and decision-making
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Safety and decision-making
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Safety is an important topic for a wide range of disciplines, such as engineering, economics, sociology, psychology, political science and philosophy, and plays a central role in risk analysis and risk management. The aim of this thesis is to develop a concept of safety that is relevant for decision-making, and to elucidate its consequences for risk and safety research and practices.

Essay I provides a conceptual analysis of safety in the context of societal decision-making, focusing on some fundamental distinctions and aspects, and argues for a more complex notion than what is commonly given. This concept of safety explicitly includes epistemic uncertainty, the degree to which we are uncertain of our knowledge of the situation at hand. It is discussed the extent to which such a concept may be considered an objective concept, and concluded that it is better seen as an intersubjective concept. Some formal versions of a comparative safety concept are also proposed.

Essay II explores some consequences of epistemic uncertainty. It is commonly claimed that the public is irrational in its acceptance of risks. An underlying presumption in such a claim is that the public should follow the experts’ advice in recommending an activity whenever the experts have better knowledge of the risk involved. This position is criticised based on considerations from epistemic uncertainty and the goal of safety. Furthermore, it is shown that the scope of the objection covers the entire field of risk research, risk assessment as well as risk management.

Essay III analyses the role of epistemic uncertainty for principles of achieving safety in an engineering context. The aim is to show that to account for common engineering principles we need the understanding of safety that has been argued for in Essays I-II. Several important principles in engineering safety are analysed, and it is argued that we cannot fully account for them on a narrow interpretation of safety as the reduction of risk (understanding risk as the combination of probability and severity of harm). An adequate concept of safety must include not only the reduction of risk but also the reduction of uncertainty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. viii, 15 p.
Keyword
conceptual analysis, safety, risk, epstemic uncertainty, epstemic values, values in risk assessment, risk analysis, risk management, safety engineering
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3852 (URN)91-7178-272-9 (ISBN)
Presentation
2006-02-22, Filosofienhetens seminarierum, KTH, Teknikringen 78 B, 2 tr, Stockholm, 10:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101119Available from: 2006-02-14 Created: 2006-02-14 Last updated: 2010-11-19Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Möller, NiklasHansson, Sven Ove
By organisation
Philosophy
In the same journal
Journal of Applied Philosophy
Philosophy

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

doi
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

doi
urn-nbn
Total: 438 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf