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Decision-making, Uncertainty and Precaution: A Case Study from Formal Ethics

Author:

Camilla Colombo

London School of Economics and Political Science, GB; Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa; University of Pisa, IT
About Camilla
MSc student in Philosophy and Public Policy (2013-2014) and a MA student in Philosophy (2009-2014). She also holds a degree in Philosophy. Her interests cover rational and collective decision-making, formal ethics and philosophy of biology.
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Abstract

A controversial decision making problem is handled with Rational Decision Theory tools. First, I build a convenient decision model, catching the relevant features of the original example, concerning the legitimacy of a genetic engineering intervention. In this peculiar decision context, I propose the employment of the decision criterion of maximin as a rational solution for the dilemma. I justify this criterion with two main arguments, I regard as underlying characteristics of the decision context: the agent’s state of uncertainty and the responsibility requirements involved. The suggested conclusion is shown to be an instance of the so-called Precautionary Principle, often advocated for decision-making facing environmental and public health risks. The objections of vagueness, pessimism and strictness attached to the principle are addressed to the same features of uncertainty and responsibility which justify maximin.

How to Cite: Colombo, C., 2014. Decision-making, Uncertainty and Precaution: A Case Study from Formal Ethics. Rerum Causae, 6(1), pp.89–102.
Published on 01 Jan 2014.
Peer Reviewed

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