Talk: The Precautionary Approach and the Role of Scientists in Environmental Decision-Making, by Jan Sprenger (18 Jan 2011)

Philosophy Seminar Series: 18 January 2011, 2-3:45pm, Philosophy Resource Room; Speaker: Jan Sprenger, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Tilburg University; Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

Abstract: The role of scientists in environmental decision-making has recently been the subject of vivid discussion. It might be surmised that scientists have played their part in advising policy-makers as soon as they have assessed the amount of uncertainty, or established a particular hypothesis. Against this view, I argue that also in the genuine decision-makers process, scientists need to be included: environmental decision-making often has to follow a precautionary approach, and the exact decision-theoretic implications thereof are highly sensitive to the specific epistemic context we are in. Calibrating a decision rule with scope and nature of uncertainty in a decision problem is not possible without scientific understanding of the underlying environmental system. Therefore, scientists cannot and should not be restricted to purely epistemic tasks in environmental decision-making.

Please find two recent papers here and here.

IMG_1124About the speaker: Jan Sprenger ( an is Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Tilburg University and Resident Fellow at the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS). After completing a mathematics degree, he gained a Ph.D. in philosophy in 2008 at the University of Bonn, Germany. Jan works mostly in philosophy of science, in particular the foundations of statistical inference, formal epistemology and decision theory.
More information on the Philosophy Seminar Series can be found here. A list of past talks in the series can be found here.