Ethics of Disasters: considerations on the field and reading suggestions

posted in: Reading Tips | 0

By Laís Silveira Santos

In terms of continental dimensions, environmental and climatic disasters are a chronic and recurrent problem in Brazil (Valencio, 2014), representing a significant challenge for governments and communities (Pedroso & Holm-Nielsen, 2017). As recent events of great magnitude of this nature occurred in early 2019, we can mention Vale tragedy in Brumadinho (MG), caused by a dam burst, and the largest flash flood of the last 22 years in Rio de Janeiro (RJ), which caused slides and deaths.

These types of disasters present unique problems with peculiarities and unknown situations in which ethical issues can occur through internal and external conflicts; doubts; insecurity; differentiated and conflicting values ​​and objectives; pressures from politicians, private companies, public opinion, civil society; among others (Aung et al., 2017).

There are still scholars who avoid moral discussions linked to disaster, based on the premise that such tragedies are not caused by moral agents. However, the philosopher and professor Naomi Zack, from University of Oregon (United States), argues that moral/ethical issues in disaster situations concern the general well-being and, also the reasons why people have a moral obligation not to harm others and to help those who suffer or need.

Even with this warning, Etkin and Timmerman (2013) clarify that, while ethics has an important role for emergency management, the work on disaster ethics has received insufficient attention from academic and professional literature. This situation is even worse in Brazil, where the studies in this specific field are still in an early stage. However, this lack of attention is not associated with the reality and the Brazilian history of disasters.

In particular, this subject came to get my attention as soon as I started my PhD on Public Administration and, since then, I have dedicated to the study on Disaster Ethics or Ethics in Emergency Management. In order to promote this discussion in Brazil, I present a list with suggestions of articles, books and websites that address the theme. My will is to share and contribute, mainly, to academics and professionals (technicians and managers) in the areas of Public Management and Emergency Management.

WEBSITES:

BOOKS:

  • Etkin, David (2016). Disaster Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Concepts and Causes. Elsevier.
  • Jenson E. (1997). Disaster Management Ethics. UNDP Disaster Management Training Programme. Available in: http://www.disaster-info.net/lideres/spanish/mexico/biblio/eng/doc13980.pdf
  • Stengers, I. (2015). No tempo das catástrofes: resistir à barbárie que se aproxima. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify.
  • Saban, L. I. (2016). International Disaster Management Ethics. Albany: Suny Press.
  • Saban, L. I., & Berdugo, G. (2017). Ethics Management in the Public Service: A Sensory-based Strategy. London, New York: Routledge.
  • Zack, Naomi (2009). Ethics for Disaster. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

PAPERS:

  • Aung, K. T., Rahman, N., Nurumal, M. S., & Ahayalimudin, N. (2017). Ethical Disaster or Natural Disaster? Importance of Ethical Issue in Disaster Management. Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 6(2), 90-93.
  • Etkin, D., & Timmerman, P. (2013). Emergency management and Ethics. International Journal of Emergency Management, 9(4), 277-297.
  • Feldhaus, C. (2011). A Ética dos Desastres. Filosofia (São Paulo), São Paulo, 22-29.
  • Feldhaus, C. (2011). É o utilitarismo a melhor concepção normativa para desastres? In: III Encontro de Egressos e Estudantes de Filosofia da UEL, 2011, Londrina. Anais do III Encontro de Egressos e Estudantes de Filosofia da UEL. Londrina: UEL.
  • Feldmann-Jensen, S., Jensen, S., Smith, S., & Etkin, D. (2016). Toward a substantive dialogue: The case for an ethical framework in emergency management, Part 1. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 20(1), 45-47.
  • Geale, S. K. (2012). The ethics of disaster management. Disaster Prevention and Management, 21(4), 445-462.
  • Mattedi, M. (2017). Dilemas e perspectivas da abordagem sociológica dos desastres naturais. Tempo Social, 29(3), 261-285.
  • Tavares, L. M. B., & Barbosa, F. C. (2014). Reflexões sobre a emoção do medo e suas implicações nas ações de Defesa Civil. Ambiente e Sociedade, 17(4), 17-34.
  • Valencio, N. (2014). Desastres: tecnicismo e sofrimento social. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 19(9), 3631-3644.

Works cited in the post:

Aung, K. T., Rahman, N., Nurumal, M. S., & Ahayalimudin, N. (2017). Ethical Disaster or Natural Disaster? Importance of Ethical Issue in Disaster Management. Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 6(2), 90-93.

Etkin, D., & Timmerman, P. (2013). Emergency management and Ethics. International Journal of Emergency Management, 9(4), 277-297.

Pedroso, F.; Holm-Nielsen N. (2019). Desastres Naturais no Brasil: um ciclo de tragédias anunciadas, 2017.  Disponível em: https://www.nexojornal.com.br/ensaio/2017/Desastres-Naturais-no-Brasil-um-ciclo-de-trag%C3%A9dias-anunciadas. Acesso em: 09 abr. 2019.

Valencio, N. (2014). Desastres: tecnicismo e sofrimento social. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 19(9), 3631-3644.

Zack, Naomi (2009). Ethics for Disaster. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.