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Formalization and applications of the Precautionary Principle

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  • Claude Henry

    (CECO - Laboratoire d'économétrie de l'École polytechnique - X - École polytechnique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marc Henry

    (Columbia Univesity)

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 Precautions, 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 Precautionary Principle," Working Papers hal-00243001, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00243001
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00243001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Pauline Barrieu & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2003. "The Paradox of Precaution," CIRANO Working Papers 2003s-63, CIRANO.
    5. 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.
    6. Antony Millner & Simon Dietz & Geoffrey Heal, 2010. "Ambiguity and Climate Policy," NBER Working Papers 16050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Geoffrey Heal, 2008. "Climate Economics: A Meta-Review and Some Suggestions," NBER Working Papers 13927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Pauline Barrieu & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2006. "On Precautionary Policies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(8), pages 1145-1154, August.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ambiguity; Objectively unambiguous events; Ambiguité; Evènements objectivement non ambigus; Précaution;

    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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