Dilemmas for risk experts : Uncertainty and quality in policy-related research
A new class of global environmental challenges and threats has given rise to research problems of a different sort from those of traditional science. The new scientific issues are global in scale and long term in their impact. Data on their effects are inadequate. The phenomema, which are novel, complex and variable, are themselves not well understood. Science cannot always provide well-founded theories for explanation and prediction. At best it can provide only mathematical models and computer simulations, which are essentially untestable. Thus it is "soft" scientific information, which then serves as input to "hard" policy decisions on issues of environmental and technological risk. The problems of uncertainty and quality in policy-related research are further increased in its public dimension. Here, uncertainty is politicised as both decision-makers and the public increasingly become aware of the limitations of science in the face of environmental risks. When the competence and independence of experts are questioned, new explicit epistemological and methodological frameworks are required. This paper presents the foundations of such frameworks.
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: Risk Analysis, Standards and Abnormal Occurrences, Laxenburg (AT), April 2-3, 1990
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 35234 ORA
Record Number: 199010943 / Last updated on: 1994-12-01
Original language: en
Available languages: en