Democracy, Risk, and Community: Technological Hazards and the Evolution of Liberalism by Richard P. Hiskes
This book presents a novel and compelling thesis about technological risk, liberalism, and policy making in liberal societies. Opposed to most theories of risk that focus on individual decision makers and models or rational choice, this book argues that risks must be seen as intrinsically both emergent and political phenomena. As such, risks resist reduction to individual actors, events, or decisions. To fully understand and make policy for risk, then, it is necessary to recognize that risks call attention to the connections between individuals and events, to the power being exercised in the determination and distribution of risks, and to how the failure to see risks as political, emergent phenomena results in policy failure, as in instances of "Not in My Backyard" (NIMBY) controversies. Liberal societies have particular difficulty in coping with risk, due to the excessively individualistic political theory and epistemology that undergirds liberalism. Thus, seeing risks as emergent has dramatic impact on the fundamental political concepts that make up liberal political theory and operate within liberal societies. The book treats especially the concepts of consent, community, authority, rights, responsibility, identity, and political participation. The meaning of each of these ideas has been altered by modern technological risks, and coping with risk will require that liberal societies redefine what these most basic concepts of political principles are to mean in political practice and policy making.