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Fri, April 21, 2017, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM BST
The received approach to thinking about risk is cast in terms of probabilities. The degree of risk is calculated by ascertaining the probability of a negative outcome and by looking at the statistical frequency of that negative outcome. Policies and practices are enacted or rejected on the basis of settling on a threshold of risk acceptability and whether the probability of possible negative outcomes meets this threshold. This is the understanding risk that is employed almost exclusively in the philosophical literature, and also across engineering, safety science, biomedical ethics, and public policy generally.
However, this probabilistic conception of risk is limited, particularly for new technologies and social policies where there are no statistical precedents. Recent work in the philosophy of risk argues for an understanding of risk that employs counterfactual, rather than probabilistic thinking. That is, risk is understood in terms of how easily a negative outcome could occur, rather than appealing to statistical frequencies. This counterfactual approach has significant consequences for the ways in which we assess, manage, and communicate about risks across all disciplines and practices where risk is an important concept.
The aim of this workshop is to bring together thinkers on risk to discuss and present on different approaches to the standard probabilistic models of risk, and how these approaches may supplement, improve, or replace aspects of these standard models. The workshop intends to explore how these different approaches to risk may seek to resolve questions such as:
What is the role of emotions and imagination in both risk assessment and perception?
What, if any, are the benefits of a counterfactual or narrative approach to risk communication compared to the statistical approaches?
In what way, if any, are counterfactual approaches to risk assessment and risk management useful in practice, and what is their scope and limits?
We invite students and researchers at all career stages and from across the disciplines to join us in Edinburgh for dialogue on the possibilities for rethinking risk.
Workshop programme and abstracts available here: http://rethinkingrisk.weebly.com/
This event is sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, and the Scots Philosophical Association.