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Moral Dissonance, Group Mistakes, and the Age of Risk

European Politics
Foreign Policy
Ryan Beasley
University of St Andrews
Ryan Beasley
University of St Andrews

Ulrich Beck’s World Risk Society thesis sees the success of modernity as having created uninsurable and uncontrollable risks This thesis, while contested, has been applied widely and scholars have argued there has been a transformation of government in the face of risks – risk bureaucracies and risk regulatory regimes, for example. Risk Decision Making – roughly, trying to predict and prevent ‘bads’ rather than trying to create ‘goods’ – has not been examined at the level of foreign policy decision making groups, particularly with an eye toward the types of decision making errors that are more likely to occur. Drawing on the concept of Groupthink and its subsequent variations, this paper will examine the ways in which Risk Decision Making may implicate different types of group foreign policy decision making mistakes. Special attention is given to the role of ethical dissonance as an underlying error-producing process.
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