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Policy Analysis and Values: Resources

Additional Resources: The Role of Values in Impact Assessment

There is near-universal agreement that the development and use of emerging technologies should be guided by a thoughtful evaluation of their benefits and harms. There is disagreement and confusion, however, about how a thoughtful evaluation should be undertaken. Cost-benefit analysis is often taken to be the paradigm for that evaluation: it provides a way of assessing and comparing how potential outcomes advance the public’s values, and it aims to achieve a kind of objectivity. It is evidence-based, and it attempts to prevent particular groups or leaders from skewing the analysis in their favor. But CBA is also sometimes criticized as excluding important values and as supporting special interests under a cloak of “objectivity.” The critics often call for a “precautionary” methodology instead of CBA.

A Hastings Center project took up this debate through an examination of the role of values in impact assessment tools. The project led to the publication of a Hastings special report, as well as a number of other papers and presentations. Resources from the project are available from the links at the right.

The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.