On this blog I've talked about ethics mostly as lived, personal experiences. In fact, I've even gone so far as to say it directly here. And yet, over time, ethical codes of conduct, peoples' attempts to create stability through consistency while being moved by compassion or a sense of 'right', inform choices; indeed, it is probably the interplay between experiences and codes that ethics is most clear.
There is a very clear ethical principle being espoused by the Environmental Justice movement, one that, if I were to fall out of the sky as a completely alien being and were to hear for the first time I would more probably attribute to conservative views, but here we are. This is the Precautionary Principle. Wikipedia does the definition and history greater justice than I, so I won't cover it so much. This principle, shortly, says that if you don't know whether something will hurt you or not, then you don't allow it until it can be proven to be benign. Although new-sounding and high-falutin', mushroom eaters have been following this principle for many years.
The Environmental Justice community wants to relate this to the use of chemicals in their community, and they have good reason. A recent report I heard claims that fewer than 2% of the chemicals used today have been tested for their effects on humans.
What I would like to know is, why might this be a controversial principle? It seems reasonable to me, and it seems like conservatives and liberals alike can get behind a principle that says, in effect, to slow down and first do no harm. But, I don't always have my finger on the pulse of folks' beliefs, so here's your chance to chime in...
2 days ago