Increasingly, calls are being made for government regulatory agencies to rely on quantitative risk-benefit analysis, in a framework of cost-benefit balancing, to determine acceptable levels of public health risk arising from regulated activities. In condoning the trade-off of public health for economic benefits, this policy approach fails to correspond to moral values and legal precedents respecting individual autonomy. This paper proposes an alternative policy approach, one which requires such regulatory decisions to be justified on grounds of social necessity.

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