The Ethical Foundations of the Radiological Protection System


Oral Presentation at the Fourth Regional European IRPA Congress ‘Radiation Protection Culture-A Global Challenge’, Geneva, Switzerland, 23-27 June 2014.



The system of radiological protection is based on three pillars: science, ethical and social values, and experience. As far as ethics is concerned the fundamental principles structuring the system (justification, optimisation and limitation) combines values that are at the heart of the three major theories of moral philosophy: respect for the rights of the individual (which falls within deontological ethics), the pursuit of collective interest (which falls within utilitarian ethics), and the promotion of vigilance and fairness (which falls within the ethics of virtue). Four key values underlie the radiological protection system: prudence, benevolence, justice and dignity. Over the past decade the system has also integrated procedural values ​​such as, stakeholder involvement, right to know, informed consent and self-help protection, reflecting the importance to properly inform and also preserve the autonomy and dignity of persons potentially or actually exposed to radiation.

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