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Modin & Hansson – Moral and Instrumental Norms in Food Risk Communication

Modin, P., & Hansson, S. “Moral and Instrumental Norms in Food Risk Communication.” Journal Of Business Ethics, 101(2) (2011):  313-324.

Keywords: Food, Ethics, communicating risk

In order to account for the lack of an overarching ethical principal that we can apply without fault in all situations, we rely on business, or professional ethics to guide our interactions in commerce rather than say medical ethics.

In this paper the researchers examine seven different intermediate moral steps for dealing with issues of food safety and risk to food safety. These are (1) Be honest and open. (2) Disclose incentives and conflicts of interest. (3) Take all available relevant knowledge into consideration. (4) When possible, quantify risks. (5) Describe and explain uncertainties. (6) Take all the public’s concerns into account. (7) Take the rights of individuals and groups seriously, and the researchers give both moral and instrumental reasons for there recommendations.

The researchers note that unlike other fields, all of the ethical things which are recommended also have instrumental functions. The reason for this in the field of food risk communication and its absence in other fields is posited to be because “The ethical requirements all consist in serving the Interest of those who consume the product.”(322)

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