Fire Fighting Ethics: Introductions, and Dealing with Risk and Morality in Rescue Situations
Molen, J. van der
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Fire fighting is a relatively unexplored practice in Ethics. As a very modest attempt to sketch some contours of an ethics of fire fighting the first part of this thesis starts by outlining a number of moral problems taken from the (operational repressive) fire fighting practice, namely triage, unwilled rescues, harm causing, and the balance between fire fighter- and victim-safety; concluding that the existence of distinctive accounts of morally important features, like urgency, danger, uncertainty, and a certain dependence on hierarchy creates an incentive for further ethical research in emergency response practices, including of course fire fighting; and suggests a ground for the development of emergency response ethics as a specific field of applied ethics. The second part of this thesis zooms in on the problem of balancing fire fighter safety against victim safety. The most problematic element in this dilemma is uncertainty, which is closely related to the concept of risk. Both regular contemporary moral theories and decision theory, which is the standard method of dealing with such problems in many practices, seem to be unable to cope with this risk-dilemma. The theory of Hypothetical Retrospection, which is recently developed by the Swedish philosopher Sven Ove Hansson is presented as a promising alternative for dealing with this problem.