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Lecture 4: Nats 1760.docx

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York University
Natural Science
NATS 1760
Darrin Durant

Risk, Skepticism and Politics 5/15/2013 6:03:00 AM Klienman – how can you improve decision making by getting more people involved. Collins & Evans – limit the role of ordinary people, restricted to political phase (except when they have experience (contributory expertise). What‟s important to expertise is the experience doing something – key were trying to get from experts. These are embodied in tacit skills that they have from social emersion. This is something ordinary people cannot access without being introduced into the social group (socialization process) – being subject to authoritarian teacher.  Political phase : everyone should have a say  Technical phase: only contributory experts with qualifications should be doing the work but they can be accompanied by contributory experts who have experience. Risk, Skepticism, Politics The idea of science being certain is a myth – both Klienman and Collins and Evans. Collins and Evans blame the ordinary people for the myth of certainty (b/c people are socially naive) [Similar to Douglas]. Klienman doesn‟t blame the lay people, he blames the scientists for being to arrogant (under or over estimate risk) [Similar to Beck]. Evidence is not black and white, and neither is proof (drop the term proof and use evidence, how much evidence does one offer to justify ..). Mary Douglas – anthropology of science: how to think about the culture we live in. Can our society with different values help to determine what is a risk Ulrich Beck: writing about the idea that we live in a risk society (meaning there ha been a shift in the kind of world we live in – no longer mostly concerned with producing goods and benefits but b/c of industrial activity we have started doing things which government are no longer able to keep up with the products of science of industry. What‟s happened is we have shifted to a society managing bads (being produced with science & industry). Shift to a management of bads only. We live in a risk society bc science and industry are constantly producing risks. Popkin on Skepticism: Dogmatists: something can be known. Academic skepticism: nothing is certain, nothing can be known (Collins and Evans are dogmatic but also academic scepticism b/c they say when we (or experts) know something we don‟t not know them with certainty.) Pyrrhonian skepticism: suspend judgment on all questions where there is conflicting evidence (quietude) (Klienman is a lot closer to this, he applies this to the experts but not to the ordinary public). Talking about risk: The stories we tell about risk are massively individualistic (when I think about risk we focus only on the I of risk). Risk as our Faustian Bargain? Faustian Bargain: a person offers his/her soul in exchange for diabolical favours. Different Kinds of risk: Individualist (often political move – costs are normally borne through large amounts of ppl)  Risks generated by individual choice  I weight cost and benefits  Voluntarily chosen risk  Imposed risk unjustified Working with known probabilities Aggregate costs and benefits  Individual trade offs o Downside risks traded off against upside payoffs  Both benefits and costs apply only to the individual Complete risk-aversion is irrational and probably boring too Scale does NOT matter to morality  Same standards individuals/group Bayesian Utilitarianism  Maximize benefits (make risk decisions by maximizing benefits) Collective Societal risk  Risks generated by collective choice (social/collective – groups)  Unanimous and informed consent?  Imposed risk  Imposed risk sometimes needed? Decision-making under uncertainty Social response to risks  Just distribution of risks o Beck: „wealth accumulates at the top, risk at the bottom‟  Asymmetry in choice and distribution (not all of us have equal power to affect the distribution of risk/ choices we take – risk not distributed equally.) Violating trusteeship relations via risk displacement unjustified (sometimes there is nothing boring about not taking a risk b/c accidents happen and trustee relations are violated). Scale DOES matter to morality  Questions change: to the idea of collective rights? (right to assume that a risk I think is right should be imposed on others) Rawlsian Maximin rule  Avoid worst possible outcome (the most moral decision for the collective is to avoid the worst possible outcome for the collective).  Mary Douglas: Grids/Groups Theory - the idea behind this is our social life (the collective) can be thought of as divided into groups that hold different values and prefaces (multiple world views –
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