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Murphy , Colleen , and Paolo Gardoni (2009). "Moral Dimensions of a Capability Approach to Risk Analysis " Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.
Risk typically refers to a set of scenarios, their associated probability of occurrence and consequences. In a capability approach, risk is defined as the probability that the capabilities of individuals will be reduced. This paper focuses on the criteria for evaluating the acceptability of a risk. Our specific interest is the relationship between a concern with the predicted impact on capabilities [and so with the probability of occurrence and consequences components of risk] and other widely recognized morally relevant aspects of risks. Among the additional, relevant moral factors to consider when assessing the acceptability of a risk are: (1) the distribution of risks; (2) who is at risk and who stands to potentially gain from risks; (3) the source of a risk; and (4) whether a risk is voluntary or not. We consider whether judgments of the acceptability of a risk should, for example, give special priority to the predicted impact on capabilities and whether a negative impact on capabilities be outweighed by other morally salient considerations. The risks on which we concentrate are those associated to natural hazards, where the societal impact is the result of the interaction between the natural hazard and the engineered environment.