Uncertain but Culpable
DOI link for Uncertain but Culpable
Uncertain but Culpable book
The argument for due care introduced in Chapter 2 requires showing that existing accounts of moral responsibility, the ethics of risk and moral luck, and their respective treatments of uncertainty do not adequately explain how uncertain threats of environmental harm are morally permissible. To this end, Chapter 3 explains how conventional theories of moral luck mistakenly treat uncertainty narrowly as probability uncertainty and argue that it is only when a strong probability of severe harm exists that an imposition of risk is unreasonable and merits interdiction. Consequently, because uncertainty undermines our ability to discern consequences and probabilities, theories of moral responsibility should have us believe that all uncertain threats are morally permissible. In contrast, arguments from moral luck claim that we cannot be culpable for the uncertain threats we author or any subsequent injuries they beget, since our ignorance under conditions of uncertainty is unavoidable and, therefore, excusable. Paralleling theories of moral responsibility, arguments in the ethics of risk entail that uncertain threats are trivial: they are highly improbable and/or would result in negligible harm. The implication of this starting assumption is these unquantifiable and uncorroborated threats amount to reasonable risks, which is to say that exposing others to uncertain threats is morally permissible.