Nuclear Power and Public Policy: The Social and Ethical Problems of Fission Technology / Edition 1by Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Pub. Date: 03/31/1980
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
This book grew out of projects funded by the Kentucky Human ities Council in 1974 and. 1975 and by the Environmental Protec tion Agency in 1976 and 1977. As a result of the generosity of these two agencies, I was able to study the logical, methodological, and ethical assumptions inherent in the decision to utilize nuclear fission for generating
This book grew out of projects funded by the Kentucky Human ities Council in 1974 and. 1975 and by the Environmental Protec tion Agency in 1976 and 1977. As a result of the generosity of these two agencies, I was able to study the logical, methodological, and ethical assumptions inherent in the decision to utilize nuclear fission for generating electricity. Since both grants gave me the opportunity to survey public policy-making, I discovered that there were critical lacunae in allegedly comprehensive analyses of various energy technologies. Ever since this discovery, one of my goals has been to fill one of these gaps by writing a well-docu mented study of some neglected social and ethical questions regarding nuclear power. Although many assessments of atomic energy written by en vironmentalists are highly persuasive, they often also are overly emotive and question-begging. Sometimes they employ what seem to be correct ethical conclusions, but they do so largely in an in tuitive, rather than a closely-reasoned, manner. On the other hand, books and reports written by nuclear proponents, often Under government contract, almost always ignore the social and ethical aspects of energy decision-making; they focus instead only on a purely scientific assessment of fission generation of electricity. What the energy debate needs, I believe, are more studies which aim at ethical analysis and which avoid unsubstantiated assertions. I hope that these essays are steps in that direction.
Table of Contents
One: Nuclear Technology.- 1. The History of Nuclear Energy.- 2. Government Regulation of Atomic Power.- 3. Fission Generation of Electricity.- 4. Ethical Problems Raised by Nuclear Technology.- Notes.- Two: Reactor Emissions and Equal Protection.- 1. The Controversy over Low-Level Radiation.- 2. Federal Radiation Standards.- 3. Ethical Problems of Radiation Policy.- 3.1. Adherence to the Principle of Utility.- 3.2. Violations of Equal Rights.- 3.3. Confusing What Is Normal with What Is Moral.- 3.4. Failure To Obtain Disinterested Monitoring.- 3.5. Confusing Objective and Subjective Morality.- 3.6. Inconsistent Application of Federal Preemption.- 4. Conclusion.- Notes.- Three: Nuclear Wastes and the Argument from Ignorance.- 1. The Social and Economic Costs of Storing Radioactive Wastes.- 2. Philosophical Errors in Analyses of the Waste Problem.- 2.1. Epistemological Difficulties.- 2.1.1. The Argument from Ignorance.- 2.1.2. Ignoring Monies Budgeted for US Waste Storage.- 2.1.3. The Consequences of Assuming that Nuclear Electricity Is Inexpensive.- 2.2. Ethical Difficulties.- 2.2.1. Violations of Equity.- 2.2.2. The Preclusion of Rational Choice.- 2.2.3. The Acceleration of Social Costs.- 3. Conclusion.- Notes.- Four: Core Melt Catastrophe and Due Process.- 1. The Price-Anderson Act.- 2. Philosophical Difficulties in the Price-Anderson Act.- 2.1. Logical Problems with Public Policy Governing Liability.- 2.1.1. Inconsistency between Damage Estimates and Liability Limits.- 2.1.2. Incompatibility with the Energy Reorganization Act.- 2.2. Methodological Problems with Assessments of Safety.- 2.2.1. Mathematical Assumptions Underlying Accident Probabilities.- 2.2.2. Suppression of Data Regarding Nuclear Hazards.- 2.2.3. The Reliability of the Emergency Core Cooling System.- 2.2.4. Assumptions of Near-Complete Evacuation.- 2.3. Ethical Problems in the Price-Anderson Act.- 2.3.1. The Assumption That Nuclear Power Is Only a Technological Issue.- 2.3.2. Utilitarian Distributions of Nuclear Costs and Benefits.- 2.3.3. The Threshold Clause and the Argument from Ignorance.- 3. Conclusion.- Notes.- Five: Nuclear Economics and the Problem of Externalities.- 1. The Problem of Externalities.- 1.1. The Failure To Assess Externalities.- 1.2. Partially-Compensated and Uncompensated Externalities.- 2. Partially-Compensated Externalities of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.- 2.1. The Risk of Core Melt.- 2.2. The Hazards of Low-Level Radiation.- 3. The Consequences of the Failure To Compensate.- 3.1. Less Responsible Industry Decision-Making.- 3.2. The Misallocation of Resources.- 3.3. The Promotion of Doubtful Assumptions Regarding Economic Growth.- 3.4. The Misrepresentation of Energy Choices.- 4. The Consequences of Recognizing Amenity Rights.- 5. Conclusion.- Notes.- Six: Nuclear Safety and the Naturalistic Fallacy.- 1. The Naturalistic Fallacy.- 1.1. Three Species of Error.- 1.2. The Significance of the Fallacy.- 2. Commissions of the Fallacy in Government Studies of Nuclear Power.- 2.1. The Argument Based on Probability of a Core Melt.- 2.1.1. Low Probability of Catastrophe as a Sufficient Condition for Acceptable Risks.- 2.1.2. What Is Normal as a Criterion for What Is Moral.- 2.2. The Argument Based on Other Probable Accident Risks.- 2.2.1. Consistency as a Sufficient Condition for Acceptable Judgments.- 2.2.2. The Comparability of Voluntarily-Chosen and Involuntarily-Imposed Risks.- 2.3. The Argument Based on Magnitude of Accident Consequences.- 2.3.1. The Moral Acceptability of ‘Statistically Insignificant’ Numbers of Induced Deaths.- 2.3.2. The Utilitarian Assumptions of the Argument.- 2.3.3. What Is Normal as a Criterion for What Is Moral.- 3. The Consequences to Public Policy.- 3.1. Violations of Equity and Acceptance of the Status Quo.- 3.2. Denial of Citizens’ Roles in Policy-Making.- 4. New Directions for Technology and Public Policy.- Notes.- Name Index.
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