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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2017

An Ethical Perspective on Extreme Situations and Nuclear Safety Preservation


Extreme situations lead to the collapse of systems together with all existing rules, including symbolic ones. Therefore there are no longer any procedures to comply with, nor any outside guidance to help in making the complex decisions imposed by such situations. The decision-maker has to look elsewhere to find the resources to guide their actions, all the more since they are likely to be held responsible when the situation returns to normal. We argue that ethics, based on practical reason, offer a way out of the dead-end. Practical reason is anchored in individual motivation, as opposed to external rules, and is ultimately guided by solicitude towards other human beings. As it rises from the inner desires, feelings and reasoning of a person it offers a guide for action, even when artefacts collapse. Furthermore ethics could provide common ground on which to build an interdisciplinary approach to resilience in extreme situations, as ethical questions run through all disciplines. Building on Paul Ricoeur’s practical philosophy, we describe what an ethical approach to decision-making in extreme situations could look like, as well as its implications for organizations. We show that such an approach requires that organizations allow their members to use their practical reason and act autonomously not only when accidents occur, but also in normal situations. Such a transformation could lead to building “safe institutions”, i.e. organizations within which people would preserve safety, rather than organizations that manage safety through people.
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hal-01574811 , version 1 (16-08-2017)



Hortense Blazsin. An Ethical Perspective on Extreme Situations and Nuclear Safety Preservation. Prof. Dr. Joonhong Ahn, Prof. Dr. Franck Guarnieri, Prof. Dr. Kazuo Furuta. Resilience: A New Paradigm of Nuclear Safety. From Accident Mitigation to Resilient Society Facing Extreme Situations , Springer International Publishing - Available under Open Access, pp.185-193, 2017, Print ISBN 978-3-319-58767-7 Online ISBN 978-3-319-58768-4. ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-58768-4_14⟩. ⟨hal-01574811⟩
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