Author: Sunstein, Cass R.
Source: Law, Probability and Risk, Volume 9, Numbers 3-4, September-December 2010 , pp. 227-245(19)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:The concept of irreversibility plays a large role in many domains, including public health, medical practice and environmental protection. Indeed, the concept is explicit in some statements of the precautionary principle. But the idea of irreversibility remains poorly defined. Because of the flow of time, any loss is, in a sense, irreversible. On one approach, irreversibility might be understood as a reference to the value associated with taking precautionary steps that maintain flexibility for an uncertain future (option value). On another approach, irreversibility might be understood to refer to the qualitatively distinctive and even unique nature of certain lossesa point that raises a claim about incommensurability. The two conceptions fit different problems. These ideas can be applied to a wide assortment of environmental and public health questions, including overuse of antibiotics, genetic modification of food, avian flu and climate change.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September-December 2010
- The journal publishes papers that deal with topics on the interface of law and probabilistic reasoning. These are interpreted broadly to include aspects relevant to the interpretation of scientific evidence, the assessment of uncertainty and the assessment of risk. The readership is primarily academic lawyers, mathematicians, statisticians and social scientists with interests in quantitative reasoning.