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The Ethics in Risk Taking


As an extreme sports enthusiast I have always enjoyed the rush that you get from doing something that has some form of danger associated with it. From back country skiing in British Columbia to surfing shallow reef breaks to launching yourself from a plane the adrenaline rush and the fear associated with it is impossible to explain. The way that your body goes from incredible nervousness with your heart racing uncontrollably to being able to commit yourself to an activity that your body knows it should not be doing is a feeling like no other. It is the continual search for this indescribable feeling that has pushed extreme sports to unimagined heights. Is putting yourself willingly in repeated danger ethically wrong?

Unfortunately many of these extreme sports enthusiasts and pioneers have paid the ultimate price of taking these risks. Is it ethically wrong for people to continue to take such large risks when they have so much to loose? If people are doing what they love should they stop when there are risks associated? If so at what point should someone stop

Shane had an accomplished career as a slalom skier, big mountain rider, skydiver, BASE jumper, and wingsuiter. Was it ethically wrong for him to put his new born baby and family on the line to pursue his dreams in the most dangerous sport in the world? In Shane’s case his wife supported his dangerous activities but in many cases it can put loved ones in uncomfortable positions.

The blog post I read described just how dangerous sky diving and base jumping is and included the death statistics of both sports. The author concluded that the risk was in their opinion not worth the reward. The case of Shane McConkey and the recently deceased London Olympic skydiver, Mark Sutton, shows that people will be driven to do things that they love despite the perhaps unethical behavior of leaving loved ones behind.

http://wildjuggling.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/how-dangerous-is-base-jumping/comment-page-1/#comment-3377

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afDYEtQmC6I

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6 thoughts on “The Ethics in Risk Taking

  1. This is a really interesting and different blog post, but I really enjoyed reading and reflecting on it? I can definitely attest to the rush one gets when doing extreme sports, such as snowboarding and skydiving, so I understand the feeling. Once someone gets the feeling, it seems hard to stop, and the thirst for more seems to drive these people into doing it more and more and never stopping. What I do also understand is the risk that is involved. Signing away your life before skydiving seems a little extreme, and although I did it and loved it, I always think well what if something did go terribly wrong?
    While reading your blog I couldn’t help but think about company CEO’s and managers and the decisions they make. We briefly about the deepwater issue, and this brought me back to that thought. Did the manager of Bp not think about the drastic risk he was taking, and the immense damage he would, and did do by not complying to the rules and taking the risk just to please shareholders? Maybe someone skydiving and dying seems like a big deal to the family and friends of the lost love one, but what about a giant company like Bp, think about the immense damage to people, the environment, animals, etc they caused. The risk was clearly not worth the reward.

  2. The idea of no risk, no reward applies to many aspects of life in general. The nature of what a reward actually is stems from the fact that there is a chance of failure. A risk can be described as a potential failure in any endeavor. The issue with risk evaluation is that fact that some endeavors involve multiple parties or stakeholders who can all be potentially affected by one person’s actions. This gray area truly is a tradeoff where ultimately someone or some group of people must weigh the risks against the rewards considering all stakeholders involved. In the case of the skydiver, his family decides to accept his risk of death in order for him to continue doing what he truly loves. In the example of a large company, who is going to collectively decide to accept risky situations for the sake of success of the company?

  3. You bring up a very good point here Marty and one that easily relates to the idea of corporations and stakeholders/shareholders. When one has the drive to do something, there is little that can stop them. Especially when dealing with adrenaline seekers. Once you have the rush of the first jump or catching the first big wave there is little that can stop them from continuing to do so. However, at what point does it become too much. In relation to both people and corporations, at what point do the loved ones or the shareholders have to step in and say enough is enough. Risk taking is a good thing in my opinion but within reason. I believe there comes a point when no reward will justify the risk being taken and its up to the loved ones and shareholders to make sure that point is known when it is approached.

    • I think that the more shareholders/skydivers feel that profit/rush only further increases their desire for more. I agree that the stakeholders/loved ones should know when the risks are becoming just too high but I think that it can very hard to voice that opinion. With the shareholder/skydiver taking on the risk and thus the ones that are most effected it could be hard to get the stakeholder/skydiver to stop.

  4. By what standard would we say it is ethical or not? I hear an interview the other day with a Wallenda- one of the famous tight rope walkers. Are circus performers, or professional athletes in general, different in some way? Does it matter if it is a career versus a passion (that may generate some income)?

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