Departmental Bulletin Paper 科学の相対性とリスク
Relativity of Science and Modern Risk

酒巻, 秀明

4pp.29 - 40 , 20160302 , 東京女子大学現代教養学部国際社会学科社会学専攻紀要編集委員会
In the contemporary world, the apparent disparity between reality and institutional premises is left unaddressed in many regards. Ulrich Beck calls this disparity a system of organized irresponsibility. While the quality of modern risk has shifted dramatically, this change has largely been ignored, which has resulted in “the confusion of centuries”. It is our day-to-day activities that have wrought this transition to “the second age of modernity,” even though we are not fully aware of it.
By tracing Beck’s argument, this paper tries to identify the characteristics of modern risk, and why this new kind of risk has had a tendency to go unnoticed.
The most important condition of modern risk, according to Beck, is that it is scientific. This categorization generates distinct characteristics. First, modern risk is invisible. For instance, the existence of toxic substances and the degree of their danger can only be known with the help of scientific analysis. Second, modern risk is theoretical. The causes and effects of risk must be constructed through scientific discussion. Lastly, modern risk has a normative aspect. The extent to which a certain risk is accepted varies from culture to culture according, for example, to each society’s standard of living.
As a result, modern risk can be easily overlooked, or even denied. A particular estimate of risk is always debatable, which makes it appear merely as a matter of interpretation.
Beck stresses the importance of risk definition and urges us to re-conceptualize it as we engage in societal discussion

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