On the Limits of the Precautionary Principle

Risk Analysis (forthcoming)
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The Precautionary Principle (PP) is an influential principle of risk management. It has been widely introduced into environmental legislation, and it plays an important role in most international environmental agreements. Yet, there is little consensus on precisely how to understand and formulate the principle. In this paper I prove some impossibility results for two plausible formulations of the PP as a decision-rule. These results illustrate the difficulty in making the PP consistent with the acceptance of any trade-offs between catastrophic risks and more ordinary goods.
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First archival date: 2018-12-18
Latest version: 2 (2018-12-22)
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