Proactionary principle

An ethical and decision-making principle, the proactionary principle is formulated by the transhumanist philosopher Max More as follows: [1]

People’s freedom to innovate technologically is highly valuable, even critical, to humanity. This presentee proposes the following: Assessing risks and opportunities according to available science, not popular perception. Account for the costs of the restrictions themselves, and those of opportunities foregone. Favor measures that are proportionate to the probability and magnitude of impacts, and that have a high expectation value. Protect people’s freedom to experiment, innovate, and progress.

The proactionary principle is formulated as an opposing viewpoint to the precautionary principle , which is based on the concept that the consequences of such actions are often unpredictable and irreversible. The Proactionary Principle is based on the observation that historically, the most useful and important of the innovations in the invention. More recommends 10 principles in his paper “Proactionary Principle”:

  1. Freedom to innovate
  2. Objectivity
  3. comprehensiveness
  4. Openness / Transparency
  5. Simplicity
  6. triage
  7. Symmetrical treatment
  8. Proportionality
  9. Prioritization
  10. Renew and Refresh

In a syndicated newspaper, Steve Fuller has argued that the precautionary principle and the proactionary principle are likely to replace the right-left divide in politics in the 21st century. [2] A subsequent book, The Proactionary Imperative by Fuller, and Lipinska attempts to make the proactionary principle fundamental to transhumanism as a world-view, stressing the principle of interpretation of risk as an opportunity rather than a threat. [3]

In theory, sufficient study of the variables of any proposed course of action may yield acceptable levels of predictability. In this regard the proactionary principle can be looked upon as the philosophical formulation of the accepted mathematical principles of extrapolation and the logical principles of induction . quote needed ]

However, the proactionary principle argues that “sufficient study” may in some cases be impractical. For instance, in the biosphere – whether genetically modified plant, animal, or bacteria – one would have to simulate the biosphere to achieve “acceptable levels of predictability”. While the innovator of the new life form might be a heavy burden, the other life forms in the biosphere could be irreparable harm in the case of an untested release. More’s first principle, freedom to innovate, would place the burden of proof on those who proposes a restrictive measure. quote needed ]

According to the proactionary principle (and cost-benefit analysis ), the opportunity cost of imposing a restrictive measure must be balanced against the potential costs of a new technology. quote needed ]

See also

  • projection
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Right to science and culture


  1. Jump up^ [1]
  2. Jump up^ Fuller, Steve (2012-05-07). “The Future of Ideological Conflict” . Project Syndicate . Retrieved 2012-05-26 .
  3. Jump up^ Steve Fuller, Veronika Lipinska,The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism, Palgrave Macmillan 2014

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