Article

Responsibility for safety and risk minimization: Outline of an attribution‐based approach regarding modern technological and societal systems

Authors:
  • KIT Karlsruhe/Germany
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Abstract

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, questions of safety management and responsibility became topical to a high degree. The notion of individual responsibility is, also for institutional and corporate decisions and enterprises, of particular importance for technology. Problems of collective and corporate responsibility are becoming and still will become even more topical. Engineering ethics codes should be developed, improved, and operationally implemented. Rules of priority outlined here for handling responsibility conflicts must be elaborated much further. This seems necessary to meet the ideal requirements of social responsibility for technology in society. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Hum Factors Man 13: 203–222, 2003.

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... Just appeals to the avoidance of social trap situations alone are not very useful. One should also introduce operationally available and efficient measures (Lenk 2003) such as legal sanctions (product liability, collective responsibility, etc.), financial incentives to change production, determination of property rights for public goods, etc. The following rule could serve as a guideline: as many laws, regulations and prohibitions as necessary; as many incentives, individual initiatives and individual responsibility as possible. ...
... Should a manager just follow up with managerial and economic strategies of maximizing instead of optimizing or ''satisficing'' (Simon 1951(Simon , 1979Giere 1990: 157ff) profit or pressing to save time in risky operations and strategies to implement new technologies? (Lenk 2003) Rather, he or she should refrain from generating any risk for life and limb in acceding to operational plans to implement a new technology-to stay on the safe side. Is not safety to be valued first-even at the price of setbacks with respect to economic development and a possible maximization of gains or profits? ...
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