The Return of Descartes's Malicious Demon: An Outline of a Philosophy of Precaution

François Ewald and Stephen Utz

in Embracing Risk

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780226035185
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226035178 | DOI:
The Return of Descartes's Malicious Demon: An Outline of a Philosophy of Precaution

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Company and Commercial Law


Show Summary Details


The new paradigm of security calls forth a new economy of rights and duties. While the language of risk, against a background of scientific expertise, used to be sufficient to describe all types of insecurity, the new paradigm sees uncertainty reappear in the light of even newer science. It bears witness to a deeply disturbed relationship with a science that is consulted less for the knowledge it offers than for the doubt it insinuates. Moral obligations are swallowed up in public ethics, and the principle of responsibility is seen as a reflection of a brand-new notion of precaution. The paradigm of responsibility is a paradigm of insurance—it assumes the logic of loss compensation. The paradigm of solidarity is also a paradigm of insurance, of universal and indeterminate insurance, of social and compulsory insurance. It is not so much concerned with voluntary and contractual forms of compensation as with the institution of pools of all kinds. The paradigm linked to the precautionary principle will undoubtedly remain a paradigm of insurance, but in a new shape that will have to integrate new cultural boundary conditions.

Keywords: security; precaution; rights and duties; loss compensation; insurance; public ethics

Chapter.  12608 words. 

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.