Presentation on theme: "Does risk exist, and if it does, where does it live and how do we find it? Doug Crawford-Brown Professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy Director,"— Presentation transcript:
Does risk exist, and if it does, where does it live and how do we find it? Doug Crawford-Brown Professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy Director, UNC Institute for the Environment UNC-Chapel Hill and Energy and Environment Networks Cambridge, U.K.
Some motivation: Where does the mass of this molecule exist?
Where does the color exist?
Where does my feeling about the color exist?
So, is the risk in the molecule? Yes, this is toluene.
Well, a little more refined: +
Even more refined: +
And one final refinement: +
My first claim: Risk involves some confluence of these locations and properties, although it EXPRESSES itself in the health of a population (e.g. incidence of disease)
But is the risk IN that confluence of places and properties (and where would that confluence exist), or in the mind that perceives these?
Three schools of thought on risk ObjectiveSubjectivePsychologistic
My second claim: The world does not contain risk. It contains outcomes and causes. Our minds contain the risk because we are uncertain what outcome will occur. But this risk is of the psychologistic, not subjective, kind.
But risk is in response to… +
Heidegger and the lab
My third claim: While risk might ultimately be psychologistic, it must result from (i) scientific methodologies to engage the world and (ii) methodologies of rational assessment of beliefs about that world.
Searle and the Chinese Box Scientific assessment: input output Rational reflection
My fourth claim: For ALMOST all intents and purposes, you would never know whether the box contains Doug or Dale.
What is your best estimate of the outcome? What is your best estimate of the risk?
Am I confusing Kant’s three questions? What Is (the risk)? What Ought to Be (the risk)? How do You Know (the risk)?
My fifth claim: I am not confusing risk with the perception of, or estimation of risk. I am saying that risk IS a rational perception of the world. (Obtained from a jointly scientific and philosophical process)
Is this rational perception also a social process?
One view: the classical school of rationality Formal rules of reasoning These are defined clearly These are agreed upon by all participants Rules are applied universally All rational individuals reach the same conclusions
A second: Bernstein and dialogical rationality “…stresses the character of this rationality in which there is choice, deliberation, interpretation, judicious weighing and application of universal criteria, and even rational disagreement about which criteria are relevant and most important.”
So, on what should a community reflect when forming judgments about degrees of belief in different outcomes?
First and foremost, attend to the phenomenon and its probablilities: +
Modes of reasoning Direct empirical Semi-empirical extrapolation Empirical correlation Theory-based inference Existential insight Pragmatic success
Intellectual Obligation (i) the degree to which a specific mode of reasoning must be available to increase epistemic status above minimal epistemic status and (ii) the degree to which a specific mode of reasoning must be weighted into the final analysis of epistemic status for each belief.
My sixth claim: The psychologistic basis of risk is rooted in judgments combining classical (probabilistic) and dialogical rationality.
Some central questions on judgment… What is it legitimate to form a judgment about? Under what conditions is it legitimate to form such a judgment? What evidence do we have that such judgments are reliable, truthful, etc? To what is the judgment truthful? Are judgments good in and of themselves, or an approximation to something better?
My seventh claim: Judgment is part of the ontology of risk, but it must be a structured judgment rooted in scientific observation with valid underlying reasons clearly stated and discussed.
Example: Working tables to organize “the architecture of thought”
The Foundational Judgments Evidence goes strongly against the claim Evidence goes moderately against the claim Evidence goes weakly against the claim Evidence is neutral with respect to the claim Evidence goes weakly for the claim Evidence goes moderately for the claim Evidence goes strongly for the claim
Finally, risk is characterized by: Scientific perception of the confluence of risk agent, organism, scenario and exposure A summary of competing beliefs of possible outcomes associated with this confluence Epistemic judgments of each belief resulting from systematic analysis of their rational basis An open dialogue between qualified individuals, concerning this systematic analysis A dialogue reflecting on the seven desiderata of rationality and six categories of evidence