When There is no Fix?
However, the moment one engages in an ethic of risk one learns that life and being are not that simple. There is no objective, neutral notion of risk without context/culture. One has to be prepared in a fallible world to entertain the possibility of no cause and no fix.
One of the first things one learns in a transdisciplinary worldview (https://safetyrisk.net/transdisciplinary-thinking-in-risk-and-safety/ ) is that the world is about much more than hazards and controls. When one steps away from the mono-disciplinary view of safety into a study of philosophy one learns about critical thinking, about one’s worldview than solving or ‘fixing’ things. Philosophy is about questions much more than it is about answers, and there is wisdom and maturity in such thinking. Unfortunately, Safety speaks very little about wisdom and maturity. You won’t find mention of them anywhere in the AIHS BoK on Ethics or in the OHS curriculum. And if one is interested in developing wisdom and maturity in risk then a dabble in philosophy is a good start.
An introduction to philosophy/ethics opens up a can of worms about what we don’t know. Here are a few starting questions: What is it that makes something good? Who is the moral person? What is causation? What makes an act just? Philosophically, such questions have no answers, no controls. One thing is for sure, there is no place for maturity or wisdom in simplistic binary thinking, the common tool for safety.
Similarly, there is no one single coherent school of science indeed, even Popper’s assertion that scientific method is about falsification by experiment and observation is underpinned by a philosophy that supposes objective methodology and method (https://www.academia.edu/14728091/Karl_Popper_The_Logic_of_Scientific_Discovery ). There is none.
At the other end of the philosophical debate is Kuhn (http://www.turkpsikiyatri.org/arsiv/kuhn-ssr-2nded.pdf ), who rips apart the assumptions of Popper. The notion of an objective scientific method is a philosophical construct. You cannot separate the fallible person from the fallible method (https://descartesagonistes.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/schuster-scirev-ch-10.pdf ). Imagine then how absurd it is for the AIHS BoK on Ethics to propose that a safety advisor can know objectively the nature of cause and ethics, just trust your gut! (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/ ).
Of course, at no stage in the AIHS BoK chapter on Ethics is there any ownership or transparency about its deontological ethic. This makes the chapter unethical. The first and most ethical thing to do when discussing ethics is to be transparent of one’s methodology and ethic. In this chapter, there is no honesty about foundations, methodology or ethic. It is fundamentally deceptive, which is unethical. The beginning of honesty in ethics is owning one’s worldview and discussing it in distinction to other worldviews. This is what we do in SPoR and an ethic of risk (https://cllr.com.au/product/an-ethic-of-risk-unit-17/ ).
Each school of thought in safety has its own philosophical worldview (https://safetyrisk.net/a-great-comparison-of-risk-and-safety-schools-of-thought/ ). Philosophically, it is advisable to understand one’s worldview and be able to articulate why one is attracted to such a view and not another. An apologetic.
It is out of one’s worldview (methodology) that we get a method. If a method is brutal to persons or dehumanizes persons then its source is often deontological, the bias of the AIHS BOK chapter on Ethics.
It is one thing to feel uneasy about how Safety treats people, quite another to articulate why.
Social Psychology emerges out of the Frankfurt school (https://aeon.co/essays/how-the-frankfurt-school-diagnosed-the-ills-of-western-civilisation ) and has a foundations in post-Marxist thought leading thought Post-Modernist, Post-Feminist and Semiotic roots. This has been explained in this blog and books in the series on risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/shop/ ). Being open about foundations and ethics is critical in being ethical about risk. Does your school of safety do the same? Is it ethical about its ethic?
We then come to the problem of limited fixes and limited controls, we need to be honest about fallibility. Of course, the denial of fallibility is fundamentally unethical and dishonest (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ). Such is the ethic of zero. It is only in honesty about human fallibility that Safety will ever be ethical and therefore professional about risk. Hiding one’s ethic is unethical, morally wrong and therefore unprofessional.
Fallibility is not ‘a problem’ to be ‘fixed’. The mystery of fallibility and understanding is the gateway to maturity, wisdom and ethical professionalism. Engagement with fallibility and social being brings with it much freedom in thinking and reduction in stress under the delusion that everything can be controlled and fixed. Such is the maturity and wisdom of NOT getting bogged down in simplistic binary thinking that supposes that any answer other than zero is wrong.
It is not a problem to have no answer or no fix, the problem is asking the wrong question. How many people do you want injured today? What an ethic of risk does is not answer such a binary question but tear to shreds the philosophical assumptions of the question. Similarly the nonsense of ‘all accidents can be prevented’ and ‘safety is a choice you make’. All premised on the assumption of perfectionism under a deontological ethic.