Risk, Virtue, and Theology

“This project investigates the ethical use of the quantitative analysis of risk that dominates areas like genetics, finance, and social media. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Paul Scherz The Catholic University of America Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Quantitative understandings of risk are central to society in areas like genetics, finance, and social media. Yet little theological work examines how conceptions of risk affect understandings of flourishing. This project asks: How should Christians respond to the use of risk analysis in today’s society? Using virtue ethics and examples from genetics, this project will engage social sciences to develop a theological anthropology addressing ethical implications of the use of quantitative risk analyses in both individual decisions and social governance. It will first analyze how uses of probabilistic thought, primarily in decision theory, affect prudence, shaping the relationship to uncertain future action in theologically relevant ways: control over the future, reliance on divine providence, and increased anxiety. Second, it will examine how Big Data-based risk analyses provide governance mechanisms promising increased social control through behavioristic understandings of human nature. The theological resources developed in this project will suggest how individuals, society, and the church can responsibly use risk analysis tools.