Regulating Toxic Substances: A Philosophy of Science and the Law

Regulating Toxic Substances: A Philosophy of Science and the Law

by Carl F. Cranor
     
 

The proliferation of chemical substances in commerce poses significant scientific and philosophical problems. The scientific challenge is to develop data, methodologies and techniques for identifying and assessing toxic substances before they cause harm to human beings or the environment. The philosophical problem is to determine how much scientific information we… See more details below

Overview

The proliferation of chemical substances in commerce poses significant scientific and philosophical problems. The scientific challenge is to develop data, methodologies and techniques for identifying and assessing toxic substances before they cause harm to human beings or the environment. The philosophical problem is to determine how much scientific information we should demand for this task consistent with the pursuit of other social goals. In this book, Carl Cranor utilizes material from ethics, philosophy of law, epidemiology, tort law, regulatory law, and risk assessment to argue that the evidentiary standards for science used in the law to control toxics ought to be evaluated with the purposes of the law in mind. Demanding too much for this purpose will slow the evaluation and lead to an excess of toxic substances left unidentified and unassessed, thus leaving the public at risk. Demanding too little may impose other costs. Analyzing this tension philosophically, Cranor argues for an appropriate balance between these social concerns. Although the use of somewhat less stringent evidentiary standards for expert testimony in tort law cases and the use of expedited procedures in the regulatory field might in some cases lead to mistakes of overcompensation or overregulation, the overall social costs would be less than the alternatives. Justice requires that we tolerate the chance of such errors and that we resist the temptation to demand the most science intensive evaluation of each substance in order to protect individuals better from mistakes of undercompensation and underregulation. The role of science in the control of toxic substances is an important public philosophical issue, yet until now has received little discussion by philosophers. Regulating Toxic Substances addresses this subject in a way that speaks both to a well-informed public and to experts in several disciplines, including philosophy, risk assessment, environmental and tort law, environmenta

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195074369
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/28/1993
Series:
Environmental Ethics and Science Policy Series
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.31(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.02(d)
Lexile:
1650L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Assessing Toxic Substances Through a Glass Darkly3
1The Scientific Background12
Predicting Risks from Animal Bioassays13
Background13
Regulatory Science and Policy Choices15
Normative Implications of the Scientific Uncertainties in Risk Assessment25
Problems in the Statistics of Human Epidemiological Studies and Animal Bioassays29
Discovering Risks29
Practical Evidence-Gathering Problems30
Theoretical Difficulties31
Traditional Practices in Interpreting Epidemiological Studies39
An Alternative to Traditional Practices40
Clean Hands Science, Dirty Hands Public Policy40
Professional Ethics42
Public Policy Issues44
2Scientific Evidence in the Tort Law49
Institutional Background49
The Challenge to Present Evidentiary Procedures55
Legal Issues57
Arguments for the Scientific Standards Test60
Arguments Against Competitor Views60
Black's Proposal66
A Common Conceptual Framework for Evaluating Scientific and Legal Burdens of Proof71
An Alternative View78
3Joint Causation, Torts, and Administrative Law in Environmental Health Protections83
Joint Causation and the Tort Law85
Liability Rules for Causation85
Proof of Causation90
Administrative Law91
No Moral or Policy Bars to Regulation when Joint Causation Obtains91
The Case for Regulation of Toxic Substances when Joint Causation Obtains94
Utilitarian Arguments95
Justice Arguments97
Other Considerations for Using Administrative Remedies99
4Scientific Procedures in Regulatory Agencies103
Institutional Background104
Major Laws Regulating Carcinogens104
Premarket Regulatory Statutes104
Postmarket Regulatory Statutes105
Procedural Requirements107
Substantive Statutory Requirements107
Approaches to Risk Assessment in Regulatory Agencies109
A Brief History of Agency Use of Risk Assessment109
Current Agency Risk Assessment Practices113
Two Unacceptable Approaches to Risk Assessment115
The Complete and Accurate Science Approach116
The Science-Intensive Approach116
Shortcomings of Present and Recommended Practices129
An Alternative Approach131
Coping with Scientific Uncertainty131
Mitigating the Demanding Evidentiary Standards of Science135
Expediting Risk Assessment137
Use of Tabulated TD[subscript 50]s for Most Sensitive Sites and Species138
Use of Expedited Linearized Multistage Default Procedures141
The Virtues of Expedited Procedures141
Making Public Policy on Expedited Risk Assessments Through the Agencies and Courts147
5Epistemic and Moral Justification152
Epistemic Justification153
Moral Justification157
Principles Implicit in the Occupational Safety and Health Act160
Philosophical Theories of Distribution163
Utilitarianism163
The Daniels-Rawls Theory of Health Care Protection168
The Attraction of Distributively Sensitive Theories175
Notes179
Appendix A Uncertainties in Carcinogen Risk Assessments221
Appendix B Cancer Potency Estimates of CDHS and EPA222
Appendix C Relative Risk as a Function of Alpha and Beta Values225
Appendix D Statutes Authorizing Regulation of Carcinogens229
Appendix E Derivation of TD[subscript 50] Potency Values230
Bibliography231
Index243

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