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Is a Little Pollution Good for You?Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research$
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Kevin Elliott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199755622

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755622.001.0001

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Lesson #3

Lesson #3

Ethics for Experts

(p.132) 6 Lesson #3
Is a Little Pollution Good for You?

Kevin C. Elliott

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that, if scientists are to avoid railroading their own values into individual and societal decision‐making processes, they need to follow an ethics of expertise (EOE) when disseminating information. The chapter suggests that an EOE based on the principle of informed consent would help decision makers to formulate choices based on their own values and priorities, and it would also help them to evaluate the trustworthiness of various experts. On the basis of this principle, it advises proponents of hormesis to be as explicit as possible in acknowledging the major and controversial value judgments present in their work. Two of these crucial judgments are that hormesis is the predominant toxicological dose‐response relationship and that it should be the default dose‐response model in risk assessment. Clarifying these judgments would help decision makers to recognize the key sources of uncertainty and controversy in the information supplied to them, and it would prevent interest groups from misusing the claims of hormesis proponents.

Keywords:   hormesis, ethics of expertise, consent, publication, dissemination, self‐determination, autonomy, research ethics, default dose response

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