How Not to Criticize the Precautionary Principle
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2006 October; 31(5): 447-464
The precautionary principle has its origins in debates about environmental policy, but is increasingly invoked in bioethical contexts. John Harris and Søren Holm argue that the principle should be rejected as incoherent, irrational, and representing a fundamental threat to scientific advance and technological progress. This article argues that while there are problems with standard formulations of the principle, Harris and Holm's rejection of all its forms is mistaken. In particular, they focus on strong versions of the principle and fail to recognize that weaker forms, which may escape their criticisms, are both possible and advocated in the literature.
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