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Formalization and applications of the precautionary principles

  • Claude Henry

    ()

  • Marc Henry

    ()

    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

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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File URL: http://www.econ.columbia.edu/RePEc/pdf/DP0102-22.pdf
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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0102-22
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  1. Epstein, Larry G & Zhang, Jiankang, 2001. "Subjective Probabilities on Subjectively Unambiguous Events," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 265-306, March.
  2. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  3. Massimo Marinacci & Paolo Ghirardato, 2001. "Risk, ambiguity, and the separation of utility and beliefs," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 21-2001, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  4. Massimiliano Amarante, 2005. "Ambiguity, measurability and multiple priors," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 995-1006, November.
  5. 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.
  6. Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-12, December.
  7. Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Irreversibility, uncertainty, and investment," Working papers 3137-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Epstein, L.G. & Zhang, J., 1998. "Subjective Probabilities on Subjectivity Unambiguous Event," RCER Working Papers 456, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  12. Ulph, Alistair & Ulph, David, 1997. "Global Warming, Irreversibility and Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 636-50, May.
  13. Chichilnisky, G. & Heal, G., 1993. "Global Environmental Risks," Discussion Papers 1993_03, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  14. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
  15. 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.
  16. Olivier Godard, 2005. "The precautionary principle. Between social norms and economic constructs," Working Papers hal-00243008, HAL.
  17. 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).
  18. Sarin, Rakesh K & Wakker, Peter, 1992. "A Simple Axiomatization of Nonadditive Expected Utility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1255-72, November.
  19. 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.
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