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Distinguishing Risk and Uncertainty in Risk Assessments of Emerging Technologies

Elliott, Kevin C. and Dickson, Michael (2011) Distinguishing Risk and Uncertainty in Risk Assessments of Emerging Technologies. [Preprint]

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Economist Frank Knight drew a distinction between decisions under risk and decisions under uncertainty. Despite the significance of this distinction for decision theory, we argue that there has been inadequate attention to the difficulties involved in classifying decision situations into these categories. Using the risk assessment of carbon nanotubes as an example, we show that it is often unclear whether there is adequate information to classify a decision situation as being under risk as opposed to uncertainty. We conclude by providing two (compatible) suggestions for responding to these difficulties: (1) treating decisions as real-world experiments; and (2) promoting broadly based deliberation about quantitative information.

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Item Type: Preprint
Elliott, Kevin
Keywords: risk, uncertainty, carbon nanotubes, real-world experiments, deliberation, decision theory, precaution
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science Policy
General Issues > Technology
Depositing User: Kevin Elliott
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2011 04:55
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2011 04:55
Item ID: 8771

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