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Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics

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ESEP 23:7-22 (2023)  -  DOI:

Justifying the Precautionary Principle as a political principle

Lilian Bermejo-Luque, Javier Rodríguez-Alcázar*

Philosophy 1 Department and FiloLab, University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Our aim is to defend the Precautionary Principle (PP) against the main theoretical and practical criticisms that it has raised by proposing a novel conception and a specific formulation of the principle. We first address the theoretical concerns against the idea of there being a principle of precaution by arguing for a distinctively political conception of the PP as opposed to a moral one. Our claim is that the rationale of the PP is grounded in the fact that contemporary societies wish to avoid morally unacceptable risks while at the same time pursuing other goals, aspirations and values. Following this political conception of the PP, we propose a specific formulation in terms of an argumentation scheme—the Argumentation Scheme for Appealing to Precaution—which is meant to solve, in turn, the main practical concerns that the PP has raised. We explain the advantages of our proposal by analysing appeals to precaution in the cases of (1) the European restrictions on the free movement of persons during the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) the discharge of nuclear wastes into the Irish Sea.

KEY WORDS: Precautionary principle · Proactionary principle · Precautionary framework · Political minimalism · Public decision-making · Argumentation scheme

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Cite this article as: Bermejo-Luque L, Rodríguez-Alcázar J (2023) Justifying the Precautionary Principle as a political principle. Ethics Sci Environ Polit 23:7-22.

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