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Environmental Values

Radiation Protection and Moral Theory

David Sumner and Peter Gilmour

Environmental Values 4(1995): 241-255. doi: 10.3197/096327195776679484

It seems likely that there is no threshold for the induction of cancer by ionising radiation. Hence even small radiation doses may result in a finite number of premature deaths if a large number of people are exposed. Various arguments are used to demonstrate that such deaths, if they occur, are acceptable; these arguments are shown to be flawed. Many of the arguments, and the ICRP's principle of justification, appear rooted in a utilitarian system of moral philosophy. Such a system is superficially attractive as it appears objective and rational; however, the objectivity may be an illusion masking the underlying aims of the interested parties.


KEYWORDS: Radioactive discharges, utilitarianism, emotivism, justification, cost-benefit analysis



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