Searching for Safety

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1988 - Political Science - 253 pages

Nuclear power plants, new vaccines and drugs, pesticides designed to improve agricultural production, and a plethora of other technological advances hold great promise of improving the quality of human life, but also pose great risks to human well-being. Protecting ourselves against the risks associated with these modern technologies has emerged as a major public concern throughout the industrialized world.

Searching for Safety is unique in its exposition of a theory that explains how and why risk taking makes life safer. It also exposes the high risk in backwardness, whether it is a result of policy or inadvertent. The book covers a wide range, including how the human body, as well as plants, animals, and insects, cope with danger. Wildavsky addresses the master dilemma head on, asking whether piling on safety measures actually improves safety. While he agrees that society should sometimes try to prevent large harms from occurring, he explains why such anticipatory measures are usually inferior to a strategy of resilience -learning from error how to bounce back in better shape. His purpose is to shift the risk debate from passive prevention of harm to active search for safety.

Written for the intelligent layman, the book will be of special interest to individuals concerned with risk, technology, health, safety, environmental protection, regulation, and analysis of systems for making decisions.

 

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Contents

Trial and Error Versus Trial Without Error
17
Opportunity Benefits Versus Opportunity Risks
39
Richer is Sicker Versus Richer is Safer
59
Anticipation Versus Resilience
77
Nonhuman Life Forms Cope with Danger
111
Does Adding Safety Devices Increase Safety in Nuclear Power
125
How the Human Body Defends Itself
149
Taking the Offensive
155
Diversity of Form and Redundancy of Function
162
Why the Tort Law is Unsafe
169
The Crashworthiness Doctrine
176
A Taxonomy of Error
189
The Secret of Safety Lies in Danger
205
Rights or Special Interests
217
The Politics of Anticipation
223
Notes
229

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