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Ethical risk assessment: valuing public perceptions

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1 Author(s)

Engineers are confronted with an array of moral issues and dilemmas as the complexity modern technology results in equally complex efforts to assess the accompanying environmental and safety risks. The author examines the connections between engineering ethics, risk communication, and the engineering culture. First moral issues in risk assessment are reviewed and the ethical responsibilities of engineers with respect to risk assessment and risk communication are discussed. The conventional model of risk communication, which holds that only experts possess relevant risk information, is then critiqued, and the findings of social scientists and humanists with respect to the dual importance of expert and public risk information are reviewed. Following a discussion of the prevailing engineering culture, particularly as it relates to the problems involved in risk communication, some suggestions are made for transforming the engineering culture in a manner conducive to more meaningful discussion of risk.<>

Published in:

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 1 )