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Five Types of Risky Situation

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In this paper I attempt to contribute to the debate concerning public safety and the regulation of risk by distinguishing five paradigm types of risky situation. The classification is derived analytically, developing the work of Hélène Hermansson and Sven Ove Hansson. It is suggested that situations falling into some categories are inherently more troubling than those falling into others, and thus in greater need of regulation. However, where successful, regulation transforms a situation from belonging to one category to another, and in doing so reduces the ethical difficulties with the imposition of risk. In fact, it will be argued, many of the risks of ordinary life can be analysed as having been transformed in such a way. Unfortunately, however, the approach does not solve the most difficult cases; those often arising from significant technological developments, which pose unquantifiable but possibly catastrophic risks.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010

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