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Formalization and applications of the precautionary principles

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  • Claude Henry

    ()

  • Marc Henry

    ()
    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

Abstract

A formalization of the Precautionary Principle is given here: We formalize scientific knowledge on the likelihood of events in the state space and the concepts of scientifically unambiguous events and acts. We give a definition of a non-precautionary social planner as a Savage Expected Utility maximizer who evaluates acts relative to a baseline, called "business as usual," and who disregards scientifically ambiguous acts, and we show that, for a wide class of preferences for the representative agent, non-precautionary decision making is sub-optimal. A discussion of this formalization is given in the context of national and international debates on Precaution, in the fields of Climate Change, of WTO arbitrages, and of the safety regulations of chemical products.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0102-22.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0102-22

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References

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  1. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  2. Olivier Godard, 2005. "The precautionary principle. Between social norms and economic constructs," Working Papers hal-00243008, HAL.
  3. Paolo Ghirardato & Massimo Marinacci, 2000. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Separation of Utility and Beliefs," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7616, David K. Levine.
  4. Robert S. Pindyck, 1990. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 3307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Larry G. Epstein & Jiankang Zhang, 1999. "Subjective Probabilities on Subjectively Unambiguous Events," Carleton Economic Papers 99-18, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  6. Sarin, Rakesh K & Wakker, Peter, 1992. "A Simple Axiomatization of Nonadditive Expected Utility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1255-72, November.
  7. Massimiliano Amarante, 2003. "Ambiguity, Measurability and Multiple Priors," Discussion Papers 0203-23, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  8. Gollier & Jullien & Treich, 2000. "Scientific progress and irreversibility : an economic interpretation of the Precautionary principle," Working Papers 156240, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  9. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Peter Klibanoff & Emre Ozdenoren, 1998. "Maximum Expected Utility over Savage Acts with a Set of Priors," Discussion Papers 1218, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Graciela Chichilnisky & Geoffrey Heal, 1993. "Global Environmental Risks," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 65-86, Fall.
  11. Adriana Castaldo & Massimo Marinacci, 2001. "Random correspndences as bundles of random variables," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 12-2001, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  12. Epstein, Larry G, 1980. "Decision Making and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(2), pages 269-83, June.
  13. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
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  15. Ulph, Alistair & Ulph, David, 1997. "Global Warming, Irreversibility and Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 636-50, May.
  16. Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-12, December.
  17. Timothy O'Riordan & Andrew Jordan, 1995. "The Precautionary Principle in Contemporary Environmental Politics," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 4(3), pages 191-212, August.
  18. Arrow, Kenneth J & Fisher, Anthony C, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-19, May.
  19. Epstein, L.G. & Zhang, J., 1998. "Subjective Probabilities on Subjectivity Unambiguous Event," RCER Working Papers 456, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  20. Cohen, M. & Tallon, J.M., 1999. "Decision dans le risque et l'incertitude:l'apport des modeles non additifs," Papiers d'Economie Mathématique et Applications 1999.69, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Antony Millner & Simon Dietz & Geoffrey Heal, 2010. "Ambiguity and climate policy," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 24, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  2. Basili, Marcello & Chateauneuf, Alain & Fontini, Fulvio, 2008. "Precautionary principle as a rule of choice with optimism on windfall gains and pessimism on catastrophic losses," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 485-491, October.
  3. Simon Dietz, 2011. "High impact, low probability? An empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 519-541, October.
  4. Martin L. Weitzman, 2012. "A Precautionary Tale of Uncertain Tail Fattening," NBER Working Papers 18144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Geoffrey Heal & Bengt Kriström, 2002. "Uncertainty and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 3-39, June.
  6. Geoffrey Heal, 2008. "Climate Economics: A Meta-Review and Some Suggestions," NBER Working Papers 13927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Simon Dietz, 2009. "High impact, low probability? An empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 9, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  8. Marcello Basili & Mauriziop Franzini, 2005. "The Avian Flu Disease: A Case of Precautionary Failure," Department of Economics University of Siena 454, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  9. Antony Millner & Simon Dietz & Geoffrey Heal, 2013. "Scientific Ambiguity and Climate Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(1), pages 21-46, May.
  10. Pauline Barrieu & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2003. "The Paradox of Precaution," CIRANO Working Papers 2003s-63, CIRANO.
  11. Tania Bouglet & Thomas Lanzi & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2006. "Incertitude scientifique et décision publique : le recours au Principe de pré-caution," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 72(2), pages 109-127.
  12. Simon Dietz, 2009. "High impact, low probability? An empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37612, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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