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"(Pre)caution Improvisation Area": Improvisation and Responsibility in the Practice of the Precautionary Principle

Guido Gorgoni

Published: 2010-05-06

At first sight, law and improvisation do not appear to have much in common. Law is (or at least aims to be) the realm of rules and certainty, while improvisation is the realm of unheard sound and unpredictable patterns. Law allows room for interpretation, but does it allow room for improvisation? The precautionary principle shapes a prospective form of legal responsibility rather than the traditional retrospective one, designing a responsibility in exercise, which can be included in Herbert Hart's category of "role-responsibility." Improvisation can be taken as a paradigm explaining the ways in which precaution operates, adding a new dimension to our comprehension of responsibility.

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Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis