Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 2008

Applied Ethics

Celine Kermisch
Pages 119-126

Théorie culturelle, risque, rationalité et implications éthiques

This paper intends to highlight the philosophical and ethical implications of cultural theory as initiated in the seventies by the British anthropologist, Mary Douglas. The first part will present cultural theory, mainly through her early works. We will particularly insist on the originality of this functionalist theory based on four interpersonal relationships patterns – defined according to grid and group dimensions – and their associated cultural biases, namely the egalitarian bias, the hierarchical, the insulated and the individualist one. In the second part of our study, we will show that in each of these biases, people behave and perceive differently and we will concentrate on these differences regarding risk. Finally, we will focus on one essential implication of this theory, its conception of rationality. Indeed, cultural theory implies a framework of plural rationalities, which is of paramount importance if we consider its ethical consequences. We will try to lighten these and show how it might influence risk management.