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Ethics in Chemistry: Business Models, Risk Management and Governance

Moser, Frank (2015) Ethics in Chemistry: Business Models, Risk Management and Governance. PhD Thesis , Università degli Studi di Ferrara.

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    The present PhD thesis analyses the topic of ‘Ethics in Chemistry’ by addressing the question of the extent to which activities undertaken in the past decades by chemical industry, universities in chemistry education and the international community in regulating chemical substances took into account ethical approaches. Building on a sociological approach, the area of ‘Chemistry’ is considered as an example of a Large Technological System (LTS), which is believed to be a social construct that has the ability to shape society itself. Examples for LTS include electrical power and distribution systems, the Internet or public health systems. An inherent feature of such a ‘Chemistry’ LTS is that it consists of material and immaterial subsystems that are specific and well defined in their nature. Each these subsystems have their own specific ethical concerns. This research focuses on three of them: business models in chemicals industry, such as Chemical Leasing, university education in chemistry in the context of a ‘risk society’ (a description of a modern society that manufactures risks by itself) and the international governance of chemicals under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This thesis argues that each of the three subsystems analysed since the 1960s took into account ethical considerations in a significant and detectable manner. Some fields, like higher education and research provided by universities, however could address the intrinsic challenges of a risk society in a more conscious and adequate manner. The research conducted in this area has identified the contact points and the differences between ethics and science. In particular, the ethical aspects in the analysis and interpretation of data and in the conduct of statistical tests (chemometrics) have been identified. At the industry level, Chemical Leasing has been identified as an industry-based approach that strengthens the management of chemical risks over their entire life cycle. As an inherent feature, this business model fosters Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Chemistry and can be considered as a valid means to implement a modern chemicals policy. The research undertaken delivered a detailed analysis of the fundamental principles of Chemical Leasing identifying quantitative parameters and models to assess its ethical content. With regard to the international governance of chemicals, the research undertaken revealed that international chemical regulation has strong ethical foundations and supports the shift towards a cognitive society, which embraces acts of recognition and knowing as well as processes of generating, shaping, forming and containing knowledge. The thesis analysed publicly available documents relating to the negotiations of the Stockholm Convention by means of a qualitative data analysis software to identify the ethical contents and perspectives as well as the possibility of allowing a more active and specific role of the various actors involved, such as national authorities and other stakeholder group. The research undertaken also confirmed that the different subsystems interact with each other with a high level of complexity. University education is identified as the most important one, as it represents a crucial juncture that greatly influences the outcomes of the other two subsystems. Work in the field of ethics in chemistry therefore needs to focus on the education of future generations of researchers, scientists, plant chemists, and decision-makers to ensure that the risk management of chemicals is conducted with the highest levels of ethical standards. The research has been developed in the form of five articles, all of which have been submitted to peer review journals. At the date of the submission of the present thesis, all of them have been accepted for publication. The chapters of this thesis provide a summary and short discussion of the respective papers. Reprints of the full publication are set out in the annex of the present thesis.

    Item Type:Thesis (PhD Thesis)
    Date:14 April 2015
    Tutor:Dondi, Francesco
    Coordinator:Bignozzi, Carlo Alberto
    Institution:Università degli Studi di Ferrara
    Divisions:Dipartimento > Scienze chimiche e farmaceutiche
    Subjects:Area 03 - Scienze chimiche > CHIM/01 Chimica analitica
    Uncontrolled Keywords:etica ambientale, chemical leasing, sviluppo sostenibile, gestione del rischio, istruzione, università, environmental ethics, chemical leasing, sustainable development, risk management, education, universities
    Deposited on:05 Aug 2015 09:14


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