Proactionary principles - an antidote to the precautionary principle?

As Objectivists have noted in the past, the precautionary principle is at odds with rational living.

Precautionary principle:
"If an action or policy has a suspected risk or harm, without scientific consensus that their will be no harm, then the burden of proof lies with those advocating an action or policy."
In Europe, this principle is ingrained in the law.  Many environmentalist are pushing hard to see it implemented in the United States.  As a principle, it negates technological advancement until 100% certainty is obtained.  That is simply impossible to achieve.  The entire notion of scientific consensus is an abdication of rational thought in a field where rational thought is essential.

Philosopher and futurist Max More offers an alternative, Proactionary principle:
"People’s freedom to innovate technologically is highly valuable, even critical, to humanity. This implies several imperatives when restrictive measures are proposed: Assess risks and opportunities according to available science, not popular perception. Account for both 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."
Although More's discussion is a bit rambling, I believe he is on to something significant.  Its a principle that accepts and combines the virtues of rationality and productivity.  It also sounds similar to an approach to the unknown that Peikoff discusses in one of his pod casts (I can't recall which one).

That being said - I am reluctant to tout the More horn.  More has shown a marked deficiency in understanding Objectivism, accepting many of the falsehoods perpetrated by the Brandens and their ilk.


  1. I was going to (finally) get all the way through that Pancritical Rationalism essay before I replied. Instead, I decided that I had been putting it off for good reasons and should continue doing so. I have admired More for some time because of his positive endorsement of human potential and growth, but since rediscovering Rand I have considered her and her core scholars' work to be superior.

    More seems to have no idea what axioms really are, nor of how and why they are formulated and assembled into a set. Worse, I finally realized that he is guilty of the same pragmatism that is poisoning thought throughout our culture. He attempts to avoid "rigidity" and "stagnation" by endorsing the continual change and flux of everything in existence, including principles, and including existence itself.

    It's no wonder that the Extropy Institute folded and left Transhumanist leadership in the hands of the collectivists at the World Transhumanist Association.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Kelleyn. I never finished the Pancritical Rationalism either... once I read his critique of Objectivism, I considered my time best spent elsewhere. I haven't read enough of More's works recently to see his pragmatism. Thank you for the heads up. I'll be sure to read him with more care in the future.