Monday, February 15, 2010
Debate about climate change and its attendant risks is dominated by too many people with the following conviction: all risk can always be assimilated into a standard cost-benefit (or utility maximization) analysis even if the tail is “fat”. But doing that becomes less and less coherent as our ignorance of both probability and the cost of worst case scenarios go up. One response to this problem is to defend a variety of precautionary principle analysis which, in philosophy, comes down to a maximin approach – that is, choose the alternative in which the worst outcome is the best of all possible worst outcomes. But even such approaches assume some knowledge to characterize the alternatives. But our problem is that we don’t even have this minimum knowledge.