We live in a world full of emerging risk. We generate new capacities with the potential to reorder our world and we discover new risks from old practices. What responsibilities come with doing this work? How should we manage the attendant risks? Professor Heather Douglas (University of Waterloo) describes the nature and boundaries of responsibility for the new in a risky world, and argues that the responsibility to think through the risks that come with our knowledge production can never be fully removed from the experts doing that work, even if such responsibility can (and in many cases should) be shared. Further, the responsibility to work to avoid existential risks should make the fight for social justice and against inequality central to decisions about how to pursue projects. She describes why tackling inequality is required, particularly as technological capacities increase.
Prof Douglas is a philosopher of science who focuses on the proper understanding of science given its important role in public policy. She has a particular interest in the role of values in scientific reasoning, the epistemic constraints which could help us weigh complex sets of evidence, the history of philosophy of science in the 20th century, and how to theorise science as a process embedded in society.