Summary of the ethics session at the European Radiation Protection Week in Paris

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Ethics are becoming a hot topic in radiological protection research. Radiological Protection (RP) is based on science and experience but also on ethical and societal values, since value judgements are needed in the evaluation of risk and thus in decision-making. Early in 2010, together with IRPA and academic institutions, ICRP initiated a reflection on the ethical basis of RP within dedicated workshops. The resulting ICRP report on the “Ethical Foundations of the System of Radiological Protection” will be published soon. Moreover, it is known that traditional nuclear science and engineering conferences started to include sessions and workshops dedicated to ethics on a regular basis. When we look at the different topics treated, we note a traditional focus on ‘virtue ethics’, reflecting on virtues such as ‘respect for autonomy’, ‘non-maleficence’, ‘beneficence’, ‘precaution’ and ‘justice, and on what these mean in practical situations, but also more and more on what we could call ‘ethics of method’ in policy. Examples are research ethics, or the value of stakeholder participation (based on the right of people to have a say in deciding on practices that might affect them in a negative way), or the value of compensation for a specific burden (such as in the case of communities accepting a waste disposal site). But why do we care about ethics? We don’t care because we want moral peace in our mind ourselves, or a good image towards the others. We care about ethics because we care about fairness, and justice. And for scientists and engineers, it seems to be difficult to think of their work in terms of fairness or justice. The ERPW session on “Ethics in Radiation Protection” aimed to show that ethics is relevant for everyone dealing with radiation in one or another way.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Radiation Protection Week Paris
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2017
Event2017 - ICRP-ERPW: 4th International Symposium on the System of Radiological Protection - Paris, France
Duration: 10 Oct 201712 Oct 2017


Conference2017 - ICRP-ERPW
Internet address


  • ethics, radiological protection

ID: 4449716