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Risk has been variously defined; indeed, it is a very broad topic. Because the focus of this encyclopedia is on ethical issues in business and society, which clearly encompasses government, this entry will emphasize the differences in the treatment of risk in these two domains, stressing a fundamentally important difference between the way risk is actually dealt with by businesses (focusing especially on major corporations) and the way it arguably should be handled in a liberal democracy.

Although risk has been studied for many years, modern treatments of the subject often start with the work on the theory of rational decision making, which began in the mid-20th century. Such theories usually are divided into three levels, the second of which is defined in terms of risk. ...

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