Mischaracterizing Uncertainty in Environmental-Health Sciences

Kristin Shrader-Frechette

About author

Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Professor
University of Notre Dame
Philosophy Department
Biological Sciences Department
O'Neill Family Endowed Chair
Notre Dame, IN 46556
US

E-mail: Kristin.Shrader-Frechette.1@nd.edu

Abstract


Researchers doing welfare-related science frequently mischaracterize either situations of decision-theoretic mathematical/scientific uncertainty (defined in terms of purely-subjective probabilities) as situations of risk (defined in terms of reliable, often frequency-based, probabilities), or situations of risk as those of uncertainty. The paper (1) outlines this epistemic/ethical problem; (2) surveys its often-deadly, welfare-related consequences in environmental-health sciences; and (3) uses recent research on diesel particulate matter to reveal 7 specific methodological ways that scientists may mischaracterize lethal risks instead as situations of uncertainty, mainly by using methods and assumptions with false-negative biases. The article (4) closes by outlining two normative strategies for curbing misrepresentations of risk and uncertainty, especially in welfare-affecting science.

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DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.53.0.1103

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/1103
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/1103/en

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