Precautionary Logic and a Policy of Moderation
27 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 2, 2009
The term ‘precautionary logic’ denotes a kind of argumentation that urges us to take far-reaching preventative measures. This form of argumentation appeals to a number of presuppositions about society, the environment, and human behaviour. Precautionary logic appeals to a sense of fragility of humankind and the environment, the uncertainty of scientific knowledge, the destructive tendencies of technology, the responsibility we have toward each other and towards future generations, and to the possibility of averting environmental catastrophe by adopting the wisdom of precaution as a guide. In its outlook, precautionary logic shares assumptions with early and mediaeval Christian thought. It argues for a restoration and maintenance of harmony between humankind and that which sustains it. In mediaeval times, this sustaining power was God; in secular times, it is nature itself, or the ecosystem. Adoption of this paradigm of harmony and precaution leads to a politics of moderation in which all behaviour seen as excessive, immodest, or risky should be curtailed.
Keywords: precautionary logic, mediaeval Christian thought, moderation
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