Openness and stability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humanity’s desire for change but not instability is explored. In this context, it is proposed that a key ‘balancing aid’ of society is openness. Converse attributes, such as secrecy, reserve and tact, are also discussed, following the ideas of Sissela Bok. A particular interest in openness can be traced to the thought and advocacy of Niels Bohr, at the beginning of the nuclear age, when the problems were thought about mainly in terms of security. His ideas and efforts to promote an open world are reviewed in the light of subsequent developments. These developments are not restricted to nuclear matters. The qualitative proliferation of kinds of instability (perhaps combining into John Beddington’s ‘perfect storm’) is relevant. This proliferation justifies extension of Bohr’s concerns with security to the wider realm of stability. It is also proposed in this paper that Bohr’s use of the term confidence, which was an important element of his argument for an open world, requires refinement, with a distinction between confidence in others (trust) and self-confidence (necessary for openness). The paper ends with a section on ‘improving our prospects’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-325
Number of pages7
JournalAI & Society
Issue number3
Early online date15 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Openness
  • Stability
  • Niels Bohr
  • Sissela Bok
  • Self-confidence
  • Trust

Cite this