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Risk, anxiety and the European mediation of the politics of life

By Damian Chalmers

Abstract

Most EU law is concerned with the government of risk. This poses challenges for traditional ethical yardsticks, which base the unethical nature of the act in the perpetrator's knowing that certain consequences will flow from her actions. With risk it is impossible, however, to know what consequences will follow from an action. Drawing upon a case study from the regulation of genetically modified food, this essay suggests an additional ethic, that of mediation, for EU law. Government of risk involves two forms of politics. One is the politics of hazard, which embraces uncertainty in order to realise new public goods. The other is the politics of anxiety, which rejects uncertainty to protect the vulnerability, status and singularity of the individual subject. Ineluctably opposed to one another, each politics has virtues and pathologies. A government of risk must contain both and mediate between both. Much angst with EU law, it will be suggested, derives from its paying insufficient attention to the terms of this mediation

Topics: K Law (General)
Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd.
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:3517
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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