Science & Technology Studies Unit, SCK CEN (Belgium) Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry, University of Ghent (Belgium)

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1 Lecturing ethics in courses on radiological protection and nuclear engineering Feedback on 10 years of experience and future outlook Gaston Meskens Science & Technology Studies Unit, SCK CEN (Belgium) Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry, University of Ghent (Belgium)

2 Lecturing ethics in courses on RP and nuclear engineering 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

3 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

4 Sharing a recent experience

5 Sharing a recent experience Topical socio-economic reports / expert viewpoints [ ] Risk governance 1: What is an acceptable level of (nuclear) risk for the public at large?

6 Sharing a recent experience Topical socio-economic reports / expert viewpoints [ ] Risk governance 1: What is an acceptable level of (nuclear) risk for the public at large? my answer: There exists no objective (scientific, economic, social, political or philosophical) rationale for the determination of the acceptable level of nuclear risk for the public at large. An acceptable nuclear risk is simply a risk that an informed democratic society justifies as acceptable.

7 Ethics Ethics (in theory and practice): being concerned with questions and concepts of right and wrong conduct, what ought to be. in absence of evidence that would facillitate straightforward judgement, consensus and consequent action. Modern democratic societies develop law systems to deal with ethical issues in an organised way ethics play beyond and around the limits of the law.

8 Ethics Ethics (in theory and practice): being concerned with questions and concepts of right and wrong conduct, what ought to be. in absence of evidence that would facillitate straightforward judgement, consensus and consequent action. Modern democratic societies develop law systems to deal with ethical issues in an organised way ethics play beyond and around the limits of the law. Ethics and risk risk in society: the right to be protected the right to be responsible the right to co-decide the freedom to hurt yourself The central issue that motivates an ethical approach to dealing with nuclear technology applications: the radiological risk.

9 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence 2012 SCK CEN Academy

10 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion knowledgebased opinion risk-inherent practice acceptable?

11 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence risk-inherent practice acceptable?

12 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion incomplete/speculative knowledge dissent moral pluralism consent shared values The science of hypotheses, probabilities and foresight moral pluralism knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence risk-inherent practice acceptable? Even if we would all agree on the scientific knowledge base for the assessment of the risk, opinions would still differ on its acceptability. Science may thus inform us about the technical and societal aspects of options, it cannot instruct or clarify the choice to make.

13 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence riskinherent practice acceptable? riskinherent practice acceptable? riskinherent practice acceptable? riskinherent practice acceptable?

14 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge deliberation pacification consent evidence negotiation simple regulation

15 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence simple regulation ethics of risk governance: quality control fair play

16 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence pacification ethics of risk governance: precaution & fairness in dealing with incomplete & speculative knowledge key concepts: - informed consent - freedom of choice

17 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence pacification ethics of risk governance: precaution & fairness in dealing with incomplete & speculative knowledge key concepts: - informed consent - freedom of choice

18 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge consent evidence deliberation ethics of risk governance: precaution & fairness in dealing with incomplete & speculative knowledge and moral pluralism key concepts: intellectual confrontation, transparency & participation in - knowledge generation - decision making

19 Justifying risk in the absence of evidence value-based opinion dissent moral pluralism consent shared values knowledgebased opinion uncertainty incomplete/ speculative knowledge deliberation pacification the ethical playing field of radiological protection consent evidence

20 The ethics of risk governance Getting straight about risk acceptance and societal trust Judging whether a risk is acceptable is judging whether it is morally acceptable;. People will accept a risk they cannot completely know and that they cannot completely control simply when they sense that it is marked by precaution and fairness. (any other rational for risk acceptance is suspicious, misleading or corrupt); Societal trust will only emerge if the method of risk governance is sensed as fair, not with scientific explanation or with promises of benefits and protection.

21 The ethics of risk governance Getting straight about risk acceptance and societal trust Judging whether a risk is acceptable is judging whether it is morally acceptable;. People will accept a risk they cannot completely know and that they cannot completely control simply when they sense that it is marked by precaution and fairness. (any other rational for risk acceptance is suspicious, misleading or corrupt); Societal trust will only emerge if the method of risk governance is sensed as fair, not with scientific explanation or with promises of benefits and protection. Dealing with a risk such as the one that comes with societal applications of nuclear technology is dealing with a moral issue, which implies that we also have to consider the morality of how we make sense of that issue (how we reason, generate knowledge and make decisions related to that issue) the ethics of risk governance concern primarily the ethics related to the justification of a risk the ethics related to the method of justification of that risk

22 The ethics of radiological protection The ethics of radiological protection concern moral judgements in face of risk

23 The ethics of radiological protection The ethics of radiological protection concern moral judgements in face of risk concern a responsible dealing with knowledge related uncertainty & opinion-related dissent

24 The ethics of radiological protection The ethics of radiological protection concern moral judgements in face of risk concern a responsible dealing with knowledge related uncertainty & opinion-related dissent Occupational context: use of radiation is justified by regulation (a regulation ideally installed through democratic decision making) the morality shifts to justification of specific practices, dose optimisation & limitation That responsible dealing also concerns the moral of recognising the limits of radiological protection policy in the interest of societal justification.

25 The ethics of radiological protection The moral of recognising the limits of radiological protection policy in the interest of societal justification: RP cannot and should not generate the full rationale for societal justification fostering a responsible nuclear safety and radiological protection culture is a necessary but insufficient condition for the societal justification of (the risk of) nuclear technology applications eventual societal justification motivates the ensurance of a responsible radiological protection and nuclear safety culture today a dominant perception (especially in the nuclear energy industry) is still that societal justification is a logic consequence of a responsible radiological protection and nuclear safety culture

26 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

27 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses Developing a mindset that concerns all involved actors As scientist, manager, politician, entrepreneur, medical doctor, consultant, activist or citizen, we are all moral agents when we reason about complex issues such as the applications of nuclear technology key words reflexivity and intellectual solidarity

28 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses Developing a mindset that concerns all involved actors As scientist, manager, politician, entrepreneur, medical doctor, consultant, activist or citizen, we are all moral agents when we reason about complex issues such as the applications of nuclear technology key words reflexivity and intellectual solidarity require the need to develop specific skills / competences ( attitudes ) awareness of context (social, political, historical) of the societal implications of risk justification for specific applications insight analysing and understanding complexity, uncertainty, value reference, dissent the possibilities and limitations of science curiosity crossing borders between disciplines leaving the comfort zone: developing a critical sense & an open mind these skills / competences are not additional but are needed to support traditional scientific and managerial skills / competences.

29 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses In the interest of a mandatory responsibility Mandatories responsible for nuclear safety and radiological protection should be aware of the science, politics and ethics of the justification of risk-inherent technologies such as nuclear (after all, the experts who care for nuclear safety and RP are those who function in the mandated institutions and are also those who may advise authorities in decision making and/or communicate with the media) to some extent, knowledge on the science, politics and ethics of nuclear related policies and of their overlaps with other policies (energy, medical, military, R&D, ) should be part of their culture especially for young professionals, developing - the ability to think out of the box and - the ability to apply a critical contextual view on the issues at stake is not their duty but their right.

30 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

31 3 Course formats & topics of interest Formats 1,5h introduction to ethics in radiological protection (SCK CEN courses, N/F/E) 3h roundtable discussion in national and international education programmes (SCK CEN & XIOS Hasselt, CHERNE, ) 2d seminars (BNEN, upon invitation by universities)

32 3 Course formats & topics of interest Formats 1,5h introduction to ethics in radiological protection (SCK CEN courses, N/F/E) 3h roundtable discussion in national and international education programmes (SCK CEN & XIOS Hasselt, CHERNE, ) 2d seminars (BNEN, upon invitation by universities) Topics (dealt with in lectures and in group work on case studies) critical analysis of historical evolution, the working of politics and (soft) law relations with cross-cutting issues (health, climate change, proliferation, ) the science of dealing with uncertainties (hypotheses, probabilities, foresight) the theory and practice of transdisciplinarity philosophical ideas underlying norms and values of radiological protection

33 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

34 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics The big majority of course participants (students and young professionals) consider courses on ethics as very relevant in general sense, even if there is no direct connection to their own job. Cases now mainly deal with the nuclear energy context. There is a focus on developing more discussion cases from the medical and industrial context.

35 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics The big majority of course participants (students and young professionals) consider courses on ethics as very relevant in general sense, even if there is no direct connection to their own job. Cases now mainly deal with the nuclear energy context. There is a focus on developing more discussion cases from the medical and industrial context. Experience shows that students and (young) professionals lack knowledge related to the politics of nuclear technology ; have a hunger to engage in discussions on the big questions that surround their research and profession, and feel that their education and working environment is unable to satisfy this hunger or not interested in doing so; are in need of a language to speak of the complexity of risk justification and of the related scientific, social, political and ethical aspects. Perceptions with respect to the sociology of science and the possibilities and limits of science to inform policy are cultural-independent.

36 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

37 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN Courses Advanced course in the BNEN programme is now offered on regular basis; Extending the lecturing team, organising reflection on how to teach ethics; Growing interest from academies and the industry. Policy support related to ethics and RP (cooperation of the Science & Technology Studies research group and the Academy for NST, both SCK CEN) (past) Participation in the preparation of the SCK CEN and BVS/ABR Code of Ethics EC FP7 Trasnusafe: Reflection Group on The need for and character of a transdisciplinary knowledge base for nuclear safety and radiological protection Organsing reflection on the science, politics and ethics of nuclear technology assessment in several new EC funded research projects PLATENSO, OPERRA, GENTLE, EAGLE IAEA: Invitation to present our vision on introducing ethics in radiological protection and nuclear engineering courses

38 2 Motivation to include ethics in RP and nuclear engineering courses 3 Course formats & topics of interest 4 Key conclusions from >10y of lecturing ethics 5 Current and future activities of SCK CEN 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics

39 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics To develop more formal reflection on ethics; to feed into recommendations for intellectual capacity building (expert conduct, E&T and research programmes)

40 6 Challenges for radiological protection related to ethics To develop more formal reflection on ethics; to feed into recommendations for intellectual capacity building (expert conduct, E&T and research programmes) RP as a research and policy practice has throughout history - developed profound rationales on precaution as a moral principle for justification but remains vague on fairness as the second moral principle for justification it needs to develop advanced language on fairness and specify what it could & should do and could & should not do itself in the interest of making the method of justification fair what belongs to the responsibility of occupational RP versus what belongs to the responsibility of politics how this approach could be integrated into E&T programmes

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