Research

8 pages
70 views

Overcoming the framing problem— a critical-ethical perspective on the need to integrate social sciences and humanities and stakeholder contributions in EURATOM radiation protection research

of 8
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Share
Description
This paper introduces the ‘framing problem’ as the problem of the limited potential of critical reflection on the societal justification and use of nuclear energy technology as a contribution to European radiation protection research, given that the
Transcript
  This content has been downloaded from IOPscience. Please scroll down to see the full text.Download details:IP Address: 194.100.7.242This content was downloaded on 07/06/2016 at 07:47Please note that terms and conditions apply. Overcoming the framing problem—a critical-ethical perspective on the need to integrate socialsciences and humanities and stakeholder contributions in EURATOM radiation protectionresearch View the table of contents for this issue, or go to the  journal homepage for more 2016 J. Radiol. Prot. 36 S1(http://iopscience.iop.org/0952-4746/36/2/S1)HomeSearchCollectionsJournalsAboutContact usMy IOPscience  S1 Journal of Radiological Protection Overcoming the framing problem —  a critical-ethical perspective on the need to integrate social sciences and humanities and stakeholder contributions in EURATOM radiation protection research Gaston Meskens Science and Technology Studies Unit, SCK • CEN, Belgium and Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry, University of Ghent, Ghent, BelgiumE-mail: gaston.meskens@sckcen.beReceived 10 October 2015, revised 28 March 2016Accepted for publication 30 March 2016Published 6 June 2016 Abstract This paper introduces the ‘ framing problem ’  as the problem of the limited potential of critical reflection on the societal justification and use of nuclear energy technology as a contribution to European radiation protection research, given that the research is itself driven by EURATOM ’ s pro-nuclear political position. The idea is that the problem of policy framing could in principle be ‘ overcome ’  by the integration of social sciences and humanities and stakeholder contributions in that research, taking into account that this approach could help to raise critical awareness with the involved researchers and policy makers of the issues of fairness of risk justification in society and of the consequences thereof for nuclear energy policy and policy-supportive research itself.Keywords: nuclear energy research, transdisciplinarity, EURATOM, ethics Introduction Throughout the last decade, the field of radiation protection research within EURATOM may be said to have been ‘ broadened ’ , either in scope by including ‘ safety culture ’ , ‘ social aspects ’  and ‘ ethical considerations ’ , or in method by organising ‘ stakeholder involvement ’  and the ‘ integration ’  of social sciences and humanities in its research. On the other hand, a specific orientation of radiation protection research to low dose risk research is noted, and this with the aim to reduce the scientific uncertainty with regard to health risks at low doses and/or low dose rates. Society for Radiological Protection 0952-4746/16/0200S1+7$33.00 © 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd Printed in the UK J. Radiol. Prot. 36  (2016) S1–S7doi:10.1088/0952-4746/36/2/S1  S2 It is known that the involvement of stakeholders and the integration of social sciences and humanities into research that aims to inform policy can make that research more ‘ self-critical ’ , in the sense that it can become more reflexive with respect to the social, political, cultural and historical context wherein it operates, the rationales, possibilities and limitations of its own research methods and the relevance and possible interpretations of its own hypotheses. Taking this into account, in this discussion text, I introduce the ‘ framing problem ’  as the problem of the limited potential of critical reflection on the societal justification and use of nuclear energy technology as a contribution to radiation protection research, given that the research is itself driven by EURATOM ’ s pro-nuclear political position. This policy framing becomes problem-atic when one takes into account that low dose risk research seems to move towards a more positivist approach rather than towards a more deliberate approach that would acknowledge and study the nature of uncertainty in order to deploy the precautionary principle as an ‘ ethi-cal ’  principle to inform policy.I will argue that the problem of policy framing presented here could in principle be ‘ over-come ’  by the integration of social sciences and humanities and stakeholder contributions in radiation protection research. However, that integration should be done with a critical view on the motivation for and method of that research itself. In other words, the reason to ena-ble stakeholder involvement and to create a strategic research agenda for social sciences and humanities in radiation protection research is not to unquestionably support and facilitate the EURATOM agenda to promote nuclear energy applications and to develop and maintain the necessary nuclear industry accordingly. On the contrary: stakeholder involvement and the integration of social sciences and humanities in radiation protection research should help to raise critical awareness with the involved researchers and policy makers of the issues of fair-ness of risk justification in society and of the consequences thereof for nuclear energy policy and policy-supportive research itself.In the following sections, I first recall and comment on the motivation for radiation protec-tion research in the European Union and the motivation for the orientation of that research toward ‘ Low Dose Risk Research ’ . Consequently, I analyse the current understanding of the why and how of the ‘ broadening ’  of EU radiation protection research to include ‘ social aspects ’ , and conclude with the formulation of a critical-ethical perspective on the need to integrate social sciences and humanities and stakeholder contributions in EURATOM radia-tion protection research. 1. The motivation for radiation protection research in the European Union As specified on the energy research website of the European Commission, [ … ] Fusion, fission and radiation protection research are managed in Europe by the Euratom framework pro-grammes. The EC  ’ s Energy (Euratom) Directorate is also responsible for formulating policies and strategies in this field.  [ … ]. The research can be said to assist EURATOM in its aim to promote the development and use of nuclear energy, either as a ‘ direct ’  energy source for the production of electricity or in the interest of the development and use of secondary applica-tions (medical, industrial). The main concern of EURATOM is ‘ the establishment and growth ’  of a nuclear industry to develop these applications. That is made clear in the preamble and in Article 1 of the EURATOM Treaty: [ … ] RECOGNISING that nuclear energy represents an essential resource for the development and invigoration of industry and will permit the advancement of the cause of peace, … G Meskens   J. Radiol. Prot. 36  ( 2016 ) S1  S3 …  RESOLVED to create the conditions necessary for the development of a powerful nuclear industry which will provide extensive energy resources, lead to the modernisa-tion of technical processes and contribute, through its many other applications, to the  prosperity of their peoples,[ … ][ … ] By this Treaty the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a  EUROPEAN ATOMIC ENERGY COMMUNITY (EURATOM). It shall be the task of the Community to contribute to the raising of the standard of living in the Member States and to the development of relations with the other countries by creating the conditions necessary for the speedy establishment and growth of nuclear industries.[ … ] All other articles of the EURATOM Treaty deal with how this task will be performed.In this respect, EURATOM recognises that one of the prerequisites for the use of nuclear energy in its diverse applications is the need to ‘ …   establish uniform safety standards to  protect the health of workers and of the general public and ensure that they are applied;   … ’  (EURATOM Treaty Article 2.(b)).The Treaty further specifies that ‘ … The Commission shall be responsible for promoting and facilitating nuclear research in the Member States and for complementing it by carry-ing out a Community research and training programme . … ’  (EURATOM Treaty Article 4). Consequently, Annex 1 of the Treaty, entitled ‘ Fields of research concerning nuclear energy referred to in article 4 of this treaty ’  lists as research priorities I.  Raw materials  II. Physics applied to nuclear energy  III. Physical chemistry of reactors  IV. Processing of radioactive material  V.  Applications of radioisotopes  VI. Study of the harmful affects of radiation on living organisms  VII.  Equipment   VIII.  Economic aspects of energy production In particular, VI. ‘ Study of the harmful affects of radiation on living organisms ’  is specified as (the) 1. Study of the detection and measurement of harmful radiations.  2. Study of adequate preventive and protective measures and the appropriate safety standards.  3. Study of the treatment of radiation effects. In conclusion to this point, one can say that the whole EURATOM research programme is aimed to support the development and use of nuclear energy in its diverse applications (elec-tricity production, medical applications, industrial applications). The research is traditional natural sciences and technology research, with economics as the exception. In this overall aim, also radiation protection research has a natural sciences and technology orientation in the way it is focussed on and limited to ‘ the study of the harmful affects of radiation on living organisms ’ . The Treaty makes no mentioning of the way nuclear incidents or accidents could eventually influence this approach, which gives the impression that higher levels of exposure (such as those from nuclear accidents) should be considered as ‘ deplorable ’  consequences of ‘ the development of a powerful nuclear industry ’  (as specified in the Treaty preamble). In other words: according to EURATOM, radiation protection research is motivated from the need to study harmful effects of an a priori  justified ‘ energy resource ’ . G Meskens   J. Radiol. Prot. 36  ( 2016 ) S1  S4 2. The motivation for the orientation of EU radiation protection research to ‘ low dose risk research ’ For many years now, we have seen a specific orientation of radiation protection research toward low dose risk research. The motivation for that orientation is elaborated in the Report of the High Level and Expert Group on European Low Dose Risk Research. In the report, which can be considered as the basic blueprint for the future of European radiation protection research since its publication in 2009, it is stated that [ … ] Although current radiation protection standards are generally judged to be accept-ably robust there remains considerable scientific uncertainty particularly with regard to health risks at low doses and/or low dose rates. Consequent upon these uncertainties, the issue of low dose risk is controversial in both scientific and political circles.[ … ] With respect to the application contexts of concern, the report further specifies in a footnote that  In the context of this report low doses and/or low dose rates refer to the range of acute and/or protracted exposures to ionising radiation that are typical of those encountered in the workplace, the environment and in diagnostic medicine. The motivation for low dose risk research is thus to reduce the scientific uncertainty with regard to health risks at low doses and/or low dose rates. However, the reason for this is not to eventually reconsider the  justification  of the use of nuclear energy in its various applica-tion contexts (electricity production, medical applications, industrial applications) or a fur-ther strengthening of protection measures, but rather the optimisation  of these measures. This observation is implicitly confirmed by the High Level and Expert Group report. The argu-ment that research is not specifically meant to eventually reconsider the justification of the use of nuclear energy in its various application contexts is supported by the observation that the experts consider radiation protection as an unquestionable concern, although from the perspective that public exposure from nuclear energy applications (including exposure from nuclear power plants) is now as ‘ logic ’  and ‘ inevitable ’  as natural exposures: [ … ] Both natural and man-made sources of ionising radiation contribute to human exposure and constitute a hazard for human health. Exposure of the population to natural radiation is to some extent unavoidable and medical use of radiation is now an indis- pensable part of modern healthcare. The exposure of workers, and to a smaller extent of the public, to low levels of radiation from nuclear energy production and other industrial uses of ionising radiation have become an integral part of industrialised society.[ … ] Subsequently, the argument that the main motivation to tackle scientific uncertainty in low dose risk research is not the (re-)evaluation of the justification of the use of nuclear energy but rather the optimisation of protection measures can be supported by the observation that the authors stress that These uses are heavily regulated. Radiation protection standards rely on current knowl-edge of the risks from radiation exposure.  Any over-, or under-, estimation of these  risks could lead either to unnecessary restriction or to a lower level of health protec- tion than intended. (emphasis in bold by the authors) In addition, the opinion of the experts on the validity of the precautionary principle (and especially of the Linear Non-Threshold Hypothesis) as a principle to inform radiation G Meskens   J. Radiol. Prot. 36  ( 2016 ) S1
Related Documents
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x