Moral Emotions and Risk Politics
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Risks arising from technologies raise important ethical issues for people living in the 21st century. Although technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, ICT, and nuclear energy can improve human well-being, they may also convey risks for our well-being due to, for example, accidents and pollution. As a consequence of such side-effects, technologies can trigger emotions, including fear and indignation, which often leads to conflicts between experts and laypeople. How should we deal with such emotions in political decision making about risky technologies? Emotions have often been met with suspicion in political debates about risky technologies, because they are seen as contrary to rational decision making. Indeed emotions can cloud our understanding of quantitative information about risks. However, moral emotions such as compassion and feelings of responsibility can play an important role in order to judge ethical aspects of technological risks, such as justice, fairness and autonomy. This conference will explore the role that moral emotions can and should play in risk politics.
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