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Formalization and Applications of the Precuationary Principle

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  • Claude HENRY

    (Laboratoire d’Econométrie, Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

  • Marc HENRY

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) and Depertment of Economics, Columbia University, New York)

Abstract

A formalization of the Precuationary 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 gie a definition of non-precautionary social planner as a Savage Expected Utility maximizer who evaluates acts relativ to a baseline, called “business as usual”, and who disregards scientifically ambguous acts, and we show that, for a wide class of preferences for the representative agent, non-r-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.

Suggested Citation

  • Claude HENRY & Marc HENRY, 2002. "Formalization and Applications of the Precuationary Principle," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2002009, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2002009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Weitzman, 2013. "A Precautionary Tale of Uncertain Tail Fattening," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(2), pages 159-173, June.
    2. Pauline Barrieu & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2006. "On Precautionary Policies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(8), pages 1145-1154, August.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Dietz, Simon, 2011. "High impact, low probability?: an empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 38586, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Geoffrey Heal & Bengt Kriström, 2002. "Uncertainty and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 3-39, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Dietz, Simon, 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.
    10. Millner, Antony & Dietz, Simon & Heal, Geoffrey, 2010. "Ambiguity and climate policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37595, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Pauline Barrieu & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2003. "The Paradox of Precaution," CIRANO Working Papers 2003s-63, CIRANO.
    12. Simon Dietz, 2009. "High impact, low probability? An empirical analysis of risk in the economics of climate change," GRI Working Papers 9, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    13. Antony Millner & Simon Dietz & Geoffrey Heal, 2013. "Scientific Ambiguity and Climate Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(1), pages 21-46, May.
    14. Geoffrey Heal, 2008. "Climate Economics: A Meta-Review and Some Suggestions," NBER Working Papers 13927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ambiguity; objectively unambiguous; precaution;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law

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