Ethical assessment in radioactive waste management: A proposed reflective equilibrium-based deliberative approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Radioactive waste management facility siting has often been surrounded by political controversy. By attempting to overcome accusations of technocracy, radioactive waste management organisations are reframing the problem in terms of socio‐technical issues requiring the integrative assessment of complex scientific, political and ethical issues and establishing analytic‐deliberative decision‐making processes involving public and stakeholder involvement. One important aspect of a publicly supportable radioactive waste management strategy is that adequate ethical assessment is incorporated throughout the process. There are, however, certain incompatibilities between pluralistic public and stakeholder‐led engagement processes and the types of ethical justification stemming from normative ethical theory and the input of ethical expertise. An evaluation of previous work on ethics by the UK Committee on Radioactive Waste Management highlights some of the pitfalls of utilising these types of ‘top‐down’ inputs in a primarily ‘bottom‐up’ decision‐making process. This paper then proposes the development of a new approach inspired by John Rawls's concept of ‘reflective equilibrium’, to better bridge the divide between pluralistic analytic‐deliberative decision‐making and ethical assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-618
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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