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Risk Calculus – Index
Must Ignore Low Probability – 1AC....................................................................................................................................3 Must Reject Multiple Internal Links – 1AC.........................................................................................................................4 Policy Paralysis – 1AC.........................................................................................................................................................5 Tyranny of Survival – 1AC..................................................................................................................................................6 Extensions - Must ignore low probability Impacts...............................................................................................................7 Extensions - Must ignore low probability Impacts...............................................................................................................8 Extensions - Must ignore low probability Impacts...............................................................................................................9 Extensions - Must ignore multiple internal link Impacts....................................................................................................11 Extend - Policy Paralysis....................................................................................................................................................12 Extend - Policy Paralysis....................................................................................................................................................13 Alternative – Prioritize Uniqueness....................................................................................................................................14 Alternative – Expert Opinion..............................................................................................................................................15 Alternative – Prioritize Probability.....................................................................................................................................16 Alternative – Prioritize Probability.....................................................................................................................................17 Alternative – Threshold Probability...................................................................................................................................18 They Say “Risk = Probability times impact = infinity”......................................................................................................19 They Say “Risk = Probability times impact = infinity”......................................................................................................20 They Say “Risk = Probability times impact = infinity”......................................................................................................21 They Say “Insurance Principle”..........................................................................................................................................22 They Say “Magnitude is the Most Important”....................................................................................................................23 They Say “Presumption”....................................................................................................................................................24 They Say “Probability is Impossible to Calculate”............................................................................................................25 They Say “Probability is Impossible to Calculate”............................................................................................................26 They Say “Even Improbable Impacts sometimes Occur”..................................................................................................27 They Say “Focusing on Risk Calculus Distracts Education”.............................................................................................28 They Say “Focusing on Risk Calculus Distracts Education”.............................................................................................29 No Nuclear War impacts....................................................................................................................................................30 No Environmental Collapse................................................................................................................................................31 No Biodiversity Extinction.................................................................................................................................................32 No Ozone Depletion Extinction..........................................................................................................................................33 No HIV/AIDS Extinction...................................................................................................................................................34 No Terror Attack................................................................................................................................................................35 No Bioterror Attack............................................................................................................................................................36 No Bioterror Attack............................................................................................................................................................37 No Iran Impacts..................................................................................................................................................................38 No Iran Impacts..................................................................................................................................................................39 Only Nuclear Impacts are Existential.................................................................................................................................40 Bostrom Indicts...................................................................................................................................................................41 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad........................................................................................................................42 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad........................................................................................................................43 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad........................................................................................................................44 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad........................................................................................................................45 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad........................................................................................................................46 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad........................................................................................................................47 They Say “Ignore Low Probability”...................................................................................................................................48 They Say “Ignore Low Probability”...................................................................................................................................49 They Say “Ignore Low Probability”...................................................................................................................................50 They Say “Ignore Low Probability”...................................................................................................................................51 They Say “Ignore Low Probability”...................................................................................................................................52 They Say “Ignore Low Probability”...................................................................................................................................53 They Say “Tyranny of Survival..........................................................................................................................................54 They Say “Resource Wars Improbable”.............................................................................................................................55 They Say “Resource Wars Improbable”.............................................................................................................................56 They Say “Economic Collapse = Nuclear War Improbable”.............................................................................................57 They Say “Economic Collapse = Nuclear War Improbable”.............................................................................................58 The Method Lab
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus
The Method Lab
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus
Must Ignore Low Probability – 1AC
[ ] Mini-max arguments are flawed – they overemphasize pessimism, they misinterpret probability, they place too much value on Novelty, and they undemocratically distribute values
David Berube, Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of South Carolina, 2000 [Director of Debate “Debunking Mini-max Reasoning: The Limits Of Extended Causal Chains In Contest Debating,” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, Volume 21, Available Online at http://www.cedadebate.o rg/CAD/2000_berube.pdf, Accessed 04-05-2008, p. 64-69] "There are many inherent uncertainties in the quantitative assessment of accident probability. These uncertainties include lack of sufficient data, the basic limitations of the probabilistic methods used, and insufficient information about the physical phenomena . . . relating to the potential accident situation" (211). Why then, do we accept claims associated with these probability assessments? The answer lies in the seductiveness of the mini-max principle: Act
Vohra warned: to minimize the risk of maximum disaster. According to Kavka, under the mini-max principle, "benefits and probabilities are disregarded, and that option is considered best which promises the least bad (or most good) outcome" (46-47). This is similar to what Kavka called the disaster avoidance principle: `"When choosing between potential disasters under two-dimensional uncertainty, it is rational to select the alternative that minimizes the probability of disaster occurrence" (50), and what Luce and Raiffa called the maximization-of-security-level theory (278-281). As a number of authors have noted, the mini-max principle is fraught with difficulties. I will recount four particular pitfalls in this article. First mini-max reasoning is grounded in ultrapessimisim, or "disregarding a relevant experiment regardless
of its cost" (Parmigiani 250). "The mini-max principle is founded on ultra-pessimism, [in] that it demands that the actor assume the world to be in the worst possible state" (Savage, "Statistical Decisions" 63). Savage concluded: "The mini-max rule based on negative income is ultrapessimistic and can lead to the ignoring of even extensive evidence and hence is utterly untenable for statistics" (Foundations 200). Furthermore, Parmigiani found that "no form of the minimax principle is generally superior to the other in guarding against ultrapessimism. . . . [I]t is not possible to concoct a standardization method that makes the mini-max principle safe from ultrapessimism" (243. 249). Second, mini-max reasoning is confounded by incorrect
probability assessments. "Applying mini-max means ignoring the probabilities as various outcomes" (Finnis 221). One of the reasons for incorrect decisions is grounded in politics. Proponents of a mini-max claim may misrepresent the probabilities. "The group mini-max rule is also objectionable in some contexts, because, if one were to try to apply it in a real situation, the members of the group might well lie about their true probability judgments, in order to influence the decision generated by the mini-max rule in the direction each considers correct" (Savage, Foundations
175). This problem is worsened as proponents incorporate lay source material into their extended arguments. Several studies have noted that lay estimates of low probability hazards tend to be substantially higher than expert probability estimates. . . . Is it that people sensitive to risk consequences, and unwilling to accept the risk or risk management or both strategies, might systematically exaggerate the magnitude of consequences while those in the opposite camp might systematically underplay the consequential danger involved? This implies the hypothesis that acceptance is an a priori condition, and becomes a driver of likelihood and consequence assessments, at least in some instances, while threat probabilities become the key causal factor in acceptance in still other instances. (Nehvevajsa 522) The third fault with mini-max
reasoning is that it is "flagrantly undemocratic. In particular, the influence of an *opinion, under the group mini-max rule, is altogether independent of how many people in the group hold that opinion" (Savage, Foundations 175). In other words, singular experts make mini-max estimations. Quasi-experts or secondary experts make some of the most bizarre extended arguments. In addition, there is an elitist sense to the process. The reasoning of the "expert" is presumptive over the opinion of individuals who are less educated, less affluent, or even less white. What happens when the
elite are wrong? The arrogance of elitism is hardly more evident in any other setting. Deference to authority is an important co-requisite of extended mini-max claims in contest debates. There is an insipid maxim associated with it: "Don't understand? Don't worry. We do the thinking so you won't have to!" This problem is amplified when an exceptional source in a mini-max argument cannot be corroborated. Making a decision based on a sole opinion grossly inflates the qualifications of the source to make the claim. Consider how this issue worsens as well when the source is nameless or institutional, such as a press service. The final pitfall of mini-max reasoning is that the persuasiveness of any such argument is a function of contingent variables, in particular, its novelty. Consider this simple illustration: A single large outcome appears to pose a greater risk than does the sum of multiple small outcomes. "It is always observed that society is risk averse with respect to a single event of large consequence as opposed to several small events giving the same total number of fatalities in the same time period. Hence 10.000 deaths
once in 10,000 years is perceived to be different from 1 death each year during 10,000 years" (Niehaus, de Leon & Cullingfort 93). Niehaus, de Leon, and Cullingford extended their analysis with a review of nuclear power plant safety. "The Reactor Safety Study similarly postulated that the public appears to accept more readily a much greater social impact from many small accidents than it does from the more severe, less frequent occurrences that have a similar society impact" (93). Theorists in many different settings have described this phenomenon. Wilson, for instance, devised a way to examine the impact of low-probability high-consequence events that more clearly portrayed societal estimates of such events: "A risk involving N people simultaneously is N2 (not N) times as important as an accident involving one person. Thus a bus or aeroplane accident involving 100 people is as serious as 10,000, not merely 100, automobile accidents killing one person" (274-275). The Method Lab
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus
Must Reject Multiple Internal Links – 1AC
[ ] Long chains of internal links make risk assessment impossible because they distort probabilities
Hansson, 2006; professor in philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove; May 23, 2006; “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”,; http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson.html#bondi Even after many years' experience of a technology there may be insufficient data to determine the frequencies of unusual types of accidents or failures. As one example of this, there have (fortunately) been too few severe accidents in nuclear reactors to make it possible to estimate their probabilities. In particular, most of the reactor types in use have never been involved in any serious accident. It is therefore not possible to determine the risk (probability) of a severe accident in a specified type of reactor. One common way to evade these difficulties is to calculate the probability of major failures by means of a careful investigation of the various chains of events that may lead to such failures. By combining the probabilities of various subevents in such a chain, a total probability of a serious accident can be calculated. Such calculations were in vogue in the 1970's and 1980's, but today there is a growing skepticism against them, due to several difficult problems with this methodology. One such problem is that accidents can happen in more ways than we can think of beforehand. There is no method by which we can identify all chains of events that may lead to a major accident in a nuclear reactor, or any other complex technological system. Another problem with this methodology is that the probability of a chain of events can be very difficult to determine even if we know the probability of each individual event. Suppose for instance that an accident will happen if two safety valves both fail. Furthermore suppose that we have experience showing that the probability is 1 in 500 that a valve of this construction will fail during a period of one year. Can we then conclude that the probability that both will fail in that period is 1/500 x 1/500, i.e. 1/25000? Unfortunately not, since this calculation is based on the assumption that failures in the two valves are completely independent events. It is easy to think of ways in which they may be dependent: Faulty maintenance may affect them both. They may both fail at high temperatures or in other extreme conditions caused by a failure in some other component, etc. It is in practice impossible to identify all such dependencies and determine their effects on the combined event-chain.
The Method Lab
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus
Policy Paralysis – 1AC
[ ] If you focus on minute probabilities, all actions can have catastrophic consequences – absolute risk avoidance would stifle all assessment – even if we cannot draw a perfect line, we should still act on probabilities
Hansson, 2006; professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove; May 23, 2006; “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”; http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson.html#bondi However, it would not be feasible to take such possibilities into account in all decisions that we make. In a sense, any decision may have catastrophic unforeseen consequences. If far-reaching indirect effects are taken into account, then – given the unpredictable nature of actual causation – almost any decision may lead to a disaster. In order to be able to decide and act, we therefore have to disregard many of the more remote possibilities. Cases can also easily be found in which it was an advantage that far-fetched dangers were not taken seriously. One case in point is the false alarm on socalled polywater, an alleged polymeric form of water. In 1969, the prestigious scientific journal Nature printed a letter that warned against producing polywater. The substance might "grow at the expense of normal water under any conditions found in the environment," thus replacing all natural water on earth and destroying all life on this planet. (Donahoe 1969 ) Soon afterwards, it was shown that polywater is a non-existent entity. If the warning had been heeded, then no attempts would have been made to replicate the polywater experiments, and we might still not have known that polywater does not exist. In cases like this, appeals to the possibility of unknown dangers may stop investigations and thus prevent scientific and technological progress. We therefore need criteria to determine when the possibility of unknown dangers should be taken seriously and when it can be neglected. This problem cannot be solved with probability calculus or other exact mathematical methods. The best that we can hope for is a set of informal criteria that can be used to support intuitive judgment. The following list of four criteria has been proposed for this purpose. (Hansson 1996) 1. Asymmetry of uncertainty: Possibly, a decision to build a second bridge between Sweden and Denmark will lead through some unforeseeable causal chain to a nuclear war. Possibly, it is the other way around so that a decision not to build such a bridge will lead to a nuclear war. We have no reason why one or the other of these two causal chains should be more probable, or otherwise more worthy of our attention, than the other. On the other hand, the introduction of a new species of earthworm is connected with much more uncertainty than the option not to introduce the new species. Such asymmetry is a necessary but insufficient condition for taking the issue of unknown dangers into serious consideration. 2. Novelty: Unknown dangers come mainly from new and untested phenomena. The emission of a new substance into the stratosphere constitutes a qualitative novelty, whereas the construction of a new bridge does not. An interesting example of the novelty factor can be found in particle physics. Before new and more powerful particle accelerators have been built, physicists have sometimes feared that the new levels of energy might generate a new phase of matter that accretes every atom of the earth. The decision to regard these and similar fears as groundless has been based on observations showing that the earth is already under constant bombardment from outer space of particles with the same or higher energies. (Ruthen 1993) 3. Spatial and temporal limitations: If the effects of a proposed measure are known to be limited in space or time, then these limitations reduce the urgency of the possible unknown effects associated with the measure. The absence of such limitations contributes to the severity of many ecological problems, such as global emissions and the spread of chemically stable pesticides. 4. Interference with complex systems in balance: Complex systems such as ecosystems and the atmospheric system are known to have reached some type of balance, which may be impossible to restore after a major disturbance. Due to this irreversibility, uncontrolled interference with such systems is connected with a high degree of uncertainty. (Arguably, the same can be said of uncontrolled interference with economic systems; this is an argument for piecemeal rather than drastic economic reforms.) It might be argued that we do not know that these systems can resist even minor perturbations. If causation is chaotic, then for all that we know, a minor modification of the liturgy of the Church of England may trigger a major ecological disaster in Africa. If we assume that all cause-effect relationships are chaotic, then the very idea of planning and taking precautions seems to lose its meaning. However, such a world-view would leave us entirely without guidance, even in situations when we consider ourselves well-informed. Fortunately, experience does not bear out this pessimistic worldview. Accumulated experience and theoretical reflection strongly indicate that certain types of influences on ecological systems can be withstood, whereas others cannot. The same applies to technological, economic, social, and political systems, although our knowledge about their resilience towards various disturbances has not been sufficiently systematized.
The Method Lab
Survival can become an obsession and a disease. if the price of survival is human degradation. provoking a destructive singlemindedness that will stop at nothing. native Japanese-Americans were herded. because human beings could not properly manage their need to survive. It is easy. During World War II. and if no other rights make much sense without the premise of a right to life—then how will it be possible to honor and act upon the need for survival without. no rights. “The Tyranny of Survival” p 91-93 In the name of survival. no matter what the cost to other social needs. The potential tyranny survival as value is that it is capable. to detention camps. then there is no moral reason why an effort should be made to ensure that survival. if not treated sanely." There seems to be no imaginable evil which some group is not willing to inflict on another for sake of survival. liberties or dignities which it is not ready to suppress. But it is not only in a political setting that survival has been evoked as a final and unarguable value. In genetics. It is directed even at a legitimate concern for survival.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 6 Tyranny of Survival – 1AC [ ] Voting on a minute risk of Nuclear War imposes the Tyranny of Survival . and if survival is the precondition for any and all human achievements. one can do no better than to cite Paul Ehrlich. We come here to the fundamental moral dilemma. the need for survival is basic to man. in the process. without due process of law. they succeeded in not doing so. of wiping out all other values. 1973 [ Co-founder and former director of The Hastings Institute. Dictators never talk about their aggressions. Yet it would be the defeat of all defeats if. Some have even suggested that we do the cause of survival no good by our misguided medical efforts to find means by which those suffering from such common genetically based diseases as diabetes can live a normal life. This policy was later upheld by the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. The main rationale B. For Jacques Monod. The Vietnamese war has seen one of the greatest of the many absurdities tolerated in the name of survival: the destruction of villages in order to save them. over two decades fueled the drive of militarists for ever-larger defense budgets. If. but only about the need to defend the fatherland to save it from destruction at the hands of its enemies. In the field of population and environment. F. to recognize the danger when survival is falsely and manipulatively invoked. To put it more strongly. including the right to life. The survival of the Aryan race was one of the official legitimations of Nazism. and thus procreate even more diabetics.which ensures oppression and self destructive. prof of philosophy at Harvard. ethical and political system. Under the banner of survival. heedless of the most elementary human rights. destroying everything in human beings which makes them worthy of survival. of course. all manner of social and political evils have been committed against the rights of individuals. the survival of the gene pool has been put forward as sufficient grounds for a forceful prohibition of bearers of offensive genetic traits from marrying and bearing children. United States (1944) in the general context that a threat to national security can justify acts otherwise blatantly unjustifiable. in Chance and Necessity. For all these reasons it is possible to counterpoise over against the need for survival a "tyranny of survival. suppress or destroy other fundamental human rights and values. Skinner offers in Beyond Freedom and Dignity for the controlled and conditioned society is the need for survival. The Method Lab . whose works have shown a high dedication to survival. and in its holy name a willingness to contemplate governmentally enforced abortions and a denial of food to surviving populations of nations which have not enacted population-control policies. The purported threat of Communist domination has for The value of survival could not be so readily abused were it not for its evocative power. But my point goes deeper than that. survival requires that we overthrow almost every known religious. Daniel Callahan. both biologically and psychologically. But abused it has been. the government of South Africa imposes a ruthless apartheid. It would be the Pyrrhic victory to end all Pyrrhic victories. when that concern is allowed to reach an intensity which would ignore.
that is not the case with subjective risk estimates. (For discursive purposes only we shall continue to treat the three components separately. Sj6berg. 1995. and when confidence declines so does risk perception. 4People have little confidence in intermediate- level subjective probability estimates and tend not to use them in decision-making. the higher the chance that inappropriate choices will be made that will result in costs and losses. The need for veridicality is most prominent in decisions involving high stakes. 347-380.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 7 Extensions . March & Shapira. Experimental evidence shows that in a choice between two gambles. 2. Vol. This implies that similar value and probability estimates may result in dissimilar overall risk perceptions and related anxiety by different individuals. This is to a large degree a reflection of a human need for certainty regarding value and probability estimates 3In probabilistic terms. These biases result in low-probability outcomes. perceived risk increases. The less valid their estimates. As confidence in high-probability. 351 Vertzberger in risky situations. and (b) as the distribution of possible consequences is more slanted toward undesirable consequences. Gardenfors & Sahlin. for others only a large increase in confidence will cause a significant increase in anxiety. 1961. In utilities terms (a) the more undesirable the consequences the greater the perceived risk. and well-specified causal relationships at the expense of the less tangible dimensions of a problem. 1991. Validityi s thus a particularlyi mportantc onsider-ation in the formation of risk assessments where decision-makers have reason to doubt the information available to them. and (b) when the variance of probabilities is greater. 1983. In making value and probability estimates. is defined as the likelihood of the materialization of validly predictable direct and indirect consequences with potentially adverse values. environmental constraints. 1991). from the decision-maker's vantage point. choice is most closely associated with the probabilities. when the probability of winning is greater than the probability of losing. 1976). I. 106). June 1995. although they are inherently intertwined. This indicates that choice is not independent of the structure of the alternatives available to the decision-maker (Payne. 16. that is. Political Psychology. No. Vertzberger. In terms of the interaction of probabilities and utilities. The level of risk.) The validity dimension affects the weight that decision-makers will attribute to probability and payoff estimates in their risk evaluation. For some people in risky situations. choice is most closely associated with the amounts involved in each gamble. since the probability and/or value estimates may be held with dissimilar levels of confidence. Heath & Tversky. Peterson & Lawson. individuals vary in their minimal confidence threshold requirements and thus in the degree to which anxiety will increase in response to the same incremental rise in the validity of probability and value estimates. These biases also result in paying more attention to physical certainties. a small increase in confidence levels of threatening information produces a large leap in anxiety. Fischhoff. could prove critical. 1987. where the costs of errors. decision-makers require a certain threshold of confidence before they will consider the risk as something worth worrying about. Although the three components of actual risk are in reality independent of one another. being ignored regardless of how significant the consequences of these outcomes are. including challenges to the legitimacy of decisions. Israel (Yaacov Y. when the probability of extreme outcomes increases.org/stable/3791835) Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making makers to their assessments of both outcomes and the probability distribution of outcomes may range from total confidence to very low confidence. will thus be defined by the answers to the following three questions in this order of presentation: (1)What are the gains/losses associated with each known outcome? (2)What is the probability of each outcome? (3)How valid are outcome probability and gain/loss estimates? Risk. then. or the reaction of an opponent or third party. http://www. 1979. They also have trouble understanding and interpreting information about low-probability events. so that small probabilities are particularly prone to biasing (Freuden-burg. 1986. p. self-behavior.Must ignore low probability Impacts [ ] Risk prioritizes probability – low-probability outcomes should be ignored regardless of how significant the consequences because low probabilities bias decisionmaking Vertzberger. an alternative with higher negative SEU will be rated as riskier than one with lower negative SEU (Milburn & Billings. Ster. the probability of outcomes. concrete events..5 In foreign policy this is very often the case because of the vague or ambiguous nature of foreign policy-related informa-tion The Method Lab . and probabilities influence the weight of payoffs in the process of choice. perceived risk increases: (a) when the probability of undesirable conse-quences increases and the probability of desirable consequences decreases. but when the probability of losing is greater than the probability of winning. In addition. risk estimates have three dimensions: outcome-values (desired or undesired). Ellsberg.jstor. arising from events. 1989. 1975). 1986). 1988. Professor at the Department of International Relations. pp. highcost outcomes increases so does the perception of risk. 1982. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”.3 and the confidence with which these estimates of outcome-values and probabilities are held by the decision-maker. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Payoffs affect probabilities (Einhorn and Hogarth. Accordingly. and in general will bias choice toward preference of decisions with known risks over alternatives with unknown risks4 (Curley et al.
when invoked in debate. for example. The "Zero- Infinity Problem.000. “The Use and Abuse of Risk Analysis in Policy Debate. This destroys the value of probability and divorces debate from the real world Dale Herbeck.000 = 100.000. Recognizing this tendency. rather than assess zero probability to an impact." Although the probability of some events is infinitesimally small.000 (.'15 Of course. and then use these judgments to assign a probability which is used to justify conclusions. risk analysis forces us to assign probabilities to all arguments in a debate. To illustrate this point. is the "zero-infinity problem. assume that a nuclear war would kill exactly one billion people.000. a related problem is that decision makers often fall prey to the fallacy of the golden mean.000 = 1. according to Ehrlich and Ehrlich. According to Edward Darner. Being perceptive by nature."14 A second problem with risk analysis is that the magnitude of the impact has come to dominate questions or probability. the problem with such argumentation is that it frequently borders on the absurd. but it doubtless would cause untold suffering and human anguish. that a regional war. Not surprisingly. Professor of Communication at Boston College. we may come under. not surprising that the vast majority of all debate arguments eventually culminate in a nuclear war.000 = 10. low probability/high impact arguments have come to dominate contemporary debate.000 chance of a disadvantage culminating in nuclear war would be the equivalent of an affirmative saving 100. no matter how small. the conclusion that can be drawn trom the above example is that a low probability/high impact argument would generally outweigh a high probability/low impact argument. As a result.000.000 risk = 10. is likely to culminate in a nuclear war. the impacts may be so grave that the risk becomes significant.000.000. the implication is that we must assess some probability of carcinogenicity absent proof to the contrary.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 8 Extensions . The problem is that debaters won't tell these stories.00001) 1.000 lives 1 in 1.000 lives 1 in 100 (.000 lives = 99. is often used to justify the claim that there must be some risk of the impact. A regional war in Africa could kill hundreds of thousands of lives.Must ignore low probability Impacts [ ] The Negative’s impact analysis relies on the Tyranny of Illusory Precision – the refusal to assign zero risk to low probability impacts is based on a false belief in objectivity and a tendency to compromise.000001) 1. Available Online via ERIC Number ED354559. It is.000 lives Of course. 10-12] Those of us who judge debate with some frequency know that while it is difficult to quantify probabilities. The Method Lab . Evidence such as this.000 = 100. which may in fact be a conservative assessment. debaters are well aware of this fact. not escalating to superpower conflict. easily enough to outweigh a properly mitigated set of case scenarios. Consider the following risks: probability impact risk 99 in 100 100. but they will take the easy way out and read a blurb on World War III.000.000.000. Consider. Although the probability of getting this form of cancer is extremely small. A global recession would probably not cause a nuclear war. the fear of contracting pancreatic cancer might be sufficient to warrant measures which would be unlikely to decrease the incidence of this deadly disease. they would probably conclude that any change in development policy. as John Holdren would call "the tyranny of illusory precision. Accordingly.01) 1 in 1000 (. 1992 [Director of the Fulton Debating Society at Boston College.000 = 1."13 Of course.000 lives 1 in 100 10. the Ehrlich's cite the example of pancreatic cancer. p." This phenomenon occurs whenever we take qualitative judgments. if a stranger should hear a debate upon this year's intercollegiate policy topic. the skilled advocate can effectively moot the importance of probability. Even if we resist the temptation to assign unwarranted risks. IL).000 lives.001) 1.000. for which the evidence is not clearly negative under accepted minimum conditions of observation as if they were positive. Indeed. That first is apparent in the unwillingness of the debaters to argue that a recession.0001) 1.000. For the purpose of illustration. The result. By offering the penultimate of impacts.000 (. per se.” Paper Presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Chicago. It is easy to translate the zero-infinity problem to the debate context. and a jaded view of global devastation. w( (aid be a horrible thing. this "fallacy consists in assuming that the mean or middle view between two extremes must be the best or right one simply because it is the middle view.000 lives In other words.000. advocates have become quite adept at framing their arguments to justify the attribution of some amount or probability.000 (. therefore. As Star Muir has observed: This takes form in two disturbing tendencies: an unwillingness to examine more real world impacts of policies.000 lives 1 in 10. is bad. a judge might assume that the probability necessarily lies somewhere between the two positions advocated in the debate.000."12 In other words. decouple them from their context. October 29th-November 1st. the following quotation from Unberto Saffiotti of the National Cancer Institute: "The most 'prudent' policy is to consider all agents.000 lives 1 in 100. The incredible argumentative power of this staggering impact is evident in the following statement of risks: probability impact 1.000. a 1 in 10. it is almost always fatal.
are commonly associated with "risk analysis. Debaters have argued the following: Clinton (soon to be Gore or Bush) needs to focus on foreign affairs. A recent agreement between Barak and Assad needs presidential stewardship." Here is an example of the Clinton disadvantage. 2000. Iraq allies with Iran. Searches on text retrieval services such as Lexis-Nexis Universe® and Congressional Universe® locate words and word strings within n words of each other. The links in the chain may be claims with different. . permutation and impact turnarounds. Violence and conflict ensues as Hizbollah terrorists launchGuerilla attacks into northern Israel from Lebanon. . the deal for the return of the Golan Heights to Syria fails. In theory. Hizbollah incursions increase. Superpower miscalculation results in all-out nuclear war culminating in a nuclear winter and the end of all life on the planet. . CaD. We find it associated with advantages to comparative advantage cases. both of which allow debaters to search for particular words or word strings with relative ease. Prior to computerized search engines. 208) Hence. also known as low-probability high-consequence arguments. Mini-max reasoning is defined as an extended argument in which an infinitesimally probable event of high consequence is assumed to present a highly consequential risk. . . (Glassner 206. people with fancy titles appeared. much in the fashion of the sorities (stacked syllogism): AaB. . Often the link and internal link story is the machination of the debater making the claim rather than the sources cited in the linkage. with disadvantages. plan action causes some tradeoff (real or imaginary) that either increases or decreases the President's ability to execute a particular agenda. Text retrieval services may have changed that. The affirmative plan shifts presidential focus to Nigeria that trades off with focus on the Middle East.org/CAD/2000_berube. the christening of isolated incidents as trends. In nearly every episode of fear mongering . . these often are not only extended arguments. evidence collected in this manner is linked together to reach a conclusion of nearly infinite impact. Search results are collated and loomed into an extended argument.cedadebate. warrants. therefore AaD. any warrant by authority of this ilk further complicates probability estimates in extended arguments using mini-max reasoning. . . An extended argument is any argument requiring two or more distinct causal or correlational steps between initial data and ending claim. Such arguments. contextual considerations can be mostly moot.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 9 Extensions . they also incorporate transcripts and wire releases that are less vigilantly checked for accuracy. The World Wide Web allows virtually anyone to set up a site and post anything at that site regardless of its veracity. . and even probabilistic topicality arguments. “Debunking mini-max reasoning: the limits of extended causal chains in contest debating” http://www. Israel strikes back. Chemical terrorism ensues and Israel attacks Hizbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon with tactical nuclear weapons. As a result.Must ignore low probability Impacts [ ] Low-probability high-consequence arguments use mini-max reasoning which distorts the amount of risk we should assign to impacts Berube. pages 53-73) The lifeblood of contemporary contest debating may be the extended argument. What was a knotty piece of evidence in the 1980s kick-started a practice in contest debating which currently is evident in the ubiquitous political capital disadvantage code-named "Clinton. with counterplan advantages. The appeal of mini-max risk arguments has heightened with the onset of on-line text retrieval services and the World Wide Web. some kritik implications. secondary scholars are standard fixtures. Berube. . Statements of alarm by newscasters and glorification of wannabe experts are two telltales tricks of the fear mongers' trade. depictions of entire categories of people as innately dangerous. BaC. such as Savvy Search® help contest debaters track down particular words and phrases. The dead ends checked the authenticity of the extended claims by debunking especially fanciful hypotheses. they are causal arguments using mini-max reasoning. Often. Schell asked his readers to ignore probability assessment and focus exclusively on the impact of his claim.pdf. Since anyone can post a web page and since transcripts and releases are seldom checked as factual. . This low-probability high-consequence event argument is an extended argument using mini-max reasoning. such as the ever-present specter of global thermonuclear war. his arguments are not impervious to rebuttal. Sophisticated super search engines. if not inconsistent. too much evidence from online text retrieval services is unqualified or underqualified. Furthermore. As a result." The opening statement from Schell represents a quintessential mini-max argument. The Method Lab . While text retrieval services include some refereed published materials. While Schell gave very specific reasons why probability is less important than impact in resolving this claim. [F]or some species of scares . Extended arguments are fabricated by linking evidence in which a word or word string serves as the common denominator. . The United States is drawn in. In practice. a contest debater's search for segments that could be woven together into an extended argument was incredibly time consuming. Associate Professor of Speech Communication and Director of Debate at the University of South Carolina (David M. pseudoexperts abound and are at the core of the most egregious claims in extended arguments using mini-max reasoning. Iran launches chemical weapons against Tel Aviv. . 2000. : the use of poignant anecdotes in place of scientific evidence.
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 10 The Method Lab .
10 and the probability of BaC is also .Must ignore multiple internal link Impacts [ ] Multiple internal link calculations fail – different conditions make determining probability impossible Berube. “Debunking mini-max reasoning: the limits of extended causal chains in contest debating” http://www. and the final probability may actually be much larger than one will predict if one makes this error. If they are correlated. If one considers the probability of many separate events occurring. While corroboration seems valid.pdf.that is.01. we might try to engage multiple sources making the same or same-like claim. too much reliance is given an extended link story when each step in the link exhibits a probability that is geometrically self-effacing. and the probability of the 2nd in the supposition the 1st happens" (Bayes 299). [I]f both testimonies are genuinely independent and fully agree with one another. We feel it is less likely that two or more sources are incorrect than that a single source will be. For example. The probability that I will hit my funny bone at any given instant is also small. calculating probabilities would be easy. since the probability of swearing at a given instant is correlated to the probability of hurting myself at a given instant. 2000. then the probability of AaD is .e.the chances that some event will occur when some set of previous conditions exists" (Krause 67). we are surely going to be inclined to accept them" (Cohen 72). Associate Professor of Speech Communication and Director of Debate at the University of South Carolina (David M. which have no relevance to things as they are. the probability that I will hit my funny bone and then utter an obscenity is not equal to the product of the probabilities. even though the combination of the two testimonies is rather persuasive. However. if a story is drawn from AaBaCaD. one must also consider whether or not they are correlated . Unfortunately. such as phenomena in international relations.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 11 Extensions .org/CAD/2000_berube. (Krause 67) Hence. If all we had to do to determine probability involved multiplying fractions.5 probability) on its own. . 2000. the probabilities of AaB and BaC and CaD are multiplied. An interesting caveat involves conditional probability. it is a persuasive pipe-dream. the probability that I will utter an obscenity at any given instance may be small (although it is certainly not zero). .10. According to the traditional multiplication theorem. The Method Lab .. Witness some of the problems associated with realism in international relations literature. such is not the case. errors are likely to be shared and replicated. drawn from the observed event" (Laplace 15). the second probability divided by the first will be the probability of the event expected. "Its expositors hold that we should not concern ourselves with absolute probabilities. whether or not they are truly independent. "There are cases in which each testimony seems unreliable (i. "if we calculate a priori the probability of the occurred event and the probability of an event composed of that one and a second one which is expected. If the probability of AaB is . If we use this calculus to draw our claims. "The probability that two subsequent events will both happen is a ratio compounded of the probability of the 1st. . When we are uncertain about a probability.cedadebate. Conditional probabilities are most often associated with calculations involving variables that may be even remotely associated.001. pages 53-73) The complex probabilities of extended arguments are problematic.10. simply multiplying individual probabilities will not give you the correct estimate. Berube. Another complication of extended causal chains is the corroboration principle. but with conditional probabilities . then the probability of AaC is . has less than 0. If the probability of CaD is also . For example.
and possibilities with which they associated set aside. In “the real world” people are prepared to treat certain probabilities as effectively zero. in the law (especially in the context of negligence) and indeed throughout and setting of out practical affairs.. p35-36. the event at issue may be seen as no longer a real possibility. as the old precept has it: there is no need to bother with trifles.] A probability is a number between zero and one. very small. we can pretty well forget about it as a wrothy concern.” The Method Lab . 1983. Once the probability of an event gets to be small enough.” As one writer on insurance puts it: [P]eople. [“Risk: A Philosophical Introduction to the Theory of Risk Evaluation and Management”. taking certain sufficiently improbable eventualities as no longer representing real possibilities. In such a case our handling of the probabilities at issue is essentially a matter of fiat. Now numbers between zero and one can get to be very small indeed: As N gets Bigger. University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science at University of Pittsburgh. then. As a matter of practical policy we operate with probabilities on the principle that when x < e. Such an event is something we can simply write off as being “outside the range of appropriate concern. Nicholas Rescher is an American philosopher. 1983.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 12 Extend . (theoretically possible though it mat be). 1/N will grow very. refuse to worry about losses whose probability is below some threshold probabilities below the threshold are treated as though they were zero. of deciding as a matter of policy that a certain level of sufficiently low probability can be taken as a cut-off point below which we are no longer dealing with “real possibilities” and with “genuine risks.. is one to do about extremely small probabilities in the rational management of risks? On this issue there is a systemic disagreement between provabilities working mathematics or natural science and decision theorists who work on issues relating to human affairs. then x ~= 0.) When something is about as probable as it is that a thousand fair dice when tossed a thousand times will all come up sizes.possibilities. it is necessary to distinguish between real and unreal (or “merely theoretical”.” something we can dismiss for “all practical purposes. (De minimis non curat lex.Policy Paralysis [ ] Probability below certain thresholds should be ignored – otherwise it would paralyze policymaking. sufficiently remote possibility can – for all sensible purpose – be viewed as being of probability zero. then. so it is held. What. The former take the line that small numbers are small numbers and must and must be taken into account as such. Where human dealings in real-life situations are concerned. The latter tend to make the view that small probabilities represent extremely remote prospects and can be written off.” In real-life deliberations.
erroneously attributing previous floods to freak combinations of circumstances that were extremely unlikely to recur. and will thus confront great difficulties in supporting minute probability distinctions in the sphere of technological and social applications. we are very sure indeed.") But an important point must be noted in this connection. University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science at University of Pittsburgh. This would be seen as something akin to the “noise level” of a physical system of fatality probabilities significantly smaller then this would thus be seen as negligible.000 per annum in the USA. A striking instance is afforded by the Atomic Energy Commissionsponsored "Rasmussen report" (named after Norman C.000.000. this recourse to effective zero-hood does not represent a strictly objective. the study director) on the accident risks of nuclear power plants: From the viewpoint of a person living in the general vicinity of a reactor. Kates flatly denied that floods could ever recur in their area.000. And it may also vary with the magnitude of the stake at issue.? This is clearly not something that be n resolved in a once-and-for-all-manner. that in safety-engineering contexts it simply is not possible to construct sufficiently convincing arguments to support very small probabilities (below 10-5). (Most neither worry .) In deliberating about risks to human life. Rasmussen.nor insure unless "the company pays.000 and the likelihood of being injured in any one year in a reactor accident is one chance in 150. as meriting being set at zero. To be sure. the question remains: How small is small enough for being “effectively zero”? With that value of x does x ~= 0 begin: just exactly where does the threshold of effective zerohood lie. It reflects a matter of choice or decision. 16 One recent writer has asserted. circumstances. No doubt.Policy Paralysis [ ] Some probabilities are effectively zero – if we don’t ignore them.A. changing with th the “cautiousness” of the person involved. Such an approach seems to underly the Good and Drug Administration's proposed standards of “1 in a million over a lifetime. But real-life probability values are seldom all the precise. the flood victims interviewed by the geographer R.) also illustrates this perspective.17 And indeed a diversified literature has been devoted to describing the ways in which the estimation of very low probabilities can go astray. we would be paralyzed Nicholas Rescher is an American philosopher. there is a some tendency to take as a baseline the chance of death by natural disasters (or “acts of God”). the likelihood of being killed in any one year in a reactor accident is one chance in 300. It may vary from individual to individual. but this “can” functions somewhat figuratively – it is no longer something presents a realistic prospect. Of course.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 13 Extend . For it seems plausible to allow the threshold of effective zerohood to be readjusted with the magnitude of the threat of issue taking lower values as the magnitude of the at issue increases. “Risk: A Philosophical Introduction to the Theory of Risk Evaluation and Management”. 1983.” People's stance in the face of the probability that when embarking on a commercial airplane trip they will end up as an aviation fatality (which stands at roughly 3 x 10-8 for the U.000. For example. Outside the domain of purely theoretical science we are too readily plunged below the threshold of experimental error. Personal probabilities too are very vulnerable in this context of assessing very low probabilities. in themselves. in particular since statistical data are often deficient or unavailable in the case of very rare events. ontological circumstance. W. not without reason. The probability values that we treat as effectively zero must be values of which. Statistical probabilities can be very problematic in this regard.S. events of such possibility can happen in some sense of the term. roughly 1/1. The Method Lab . The theoretical calculations that sustain such a finding invoke so many assumptions regarding facts. (Such a policy seems in smooth accord with the fundamental principle of risk management that greater potential losses should be risked only when their chance for realization are less. namely the practical step of treating certain theoretically extant possibilities as unreal – as not worth bothering about. And so in general there will be considerable difficulty in sustaining the judgment that a certain probablity ideed is effectively zero. for example. p35-36. as being literally negligible. and operating principles that such probability estimates are extremely shaky. representing an scene of an individual's stance towards the whole risk-taking process.
While it is true that species extinction would have serious consequences. this fact should not force us to mindlessly reject any policy that might cause species extinction. Available Online via ERIC Number ED354559. The problem in debate today is that judges consistently assign some level of risk to disadvantages even when the affirmative presents uniqueness arguments which have a greater link to the disadvantage than the affirmative plan. many judges in this situation would irrationally assign some minimal risks to the disadvantage. Therefore. In other words. If a uniqueness argument proves that the status quo actions will be larger than the affirmative's link to the disadvantage. does not. influence than will ever occur under the affirmative plan. Finally. influence in South Asia is vastly increasing due to the virtual collapse of Soviet influence in the region. such spending should cause the disadvantage. For example. suppose the negative advocated a disadvantage claiming that increased U. influence in Bangladesh would cause a loss of Indian influence in Bangladesh. Against this plan. we should take care in assessing evidence purporting to prove that a prudent policy maker should reject any action that risks the impact.19 and given the fact that U.S. a disadvantage which posited that the plan would increase the risk of species extinction. Given the fact that the United States has given Bangladesh over 3 billion dollars over the past 20 years. in and of itself. for example. When arguing the position is not unique. IL). when arguing uniqueness against a budget disadvantage. “The Use and Abuse of Risk Analysis in Policy Debate. 10-12] not allow ourselves to become enslaved to large impacts. Professor of Communication at Boston College. albeit small.S. Further. a judge should conclude that there is zero risk to adopting the affirmative plan. the judge should assign zero risk to the disadvantage. Under these circumstances.S. They would reason that there is always some risk. Yet.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 14 Alternative – Prioritize Uniqueness [ ] Prioritizing Uniqueness as an absolute take out is essential to avoid becoming enslaved to infinite risk Dale Herbeck. October 29th-November 1st. we must The Method Lab .” Paper Presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Chicago. Consider the following example. where the uniqueness arguments prove a greater increase in U. The fact that the impact is grave.20 it would be ludicrous to assume that there is any unique risk of India fearing a minimal expansion of the IMET program to Bangladesh. to adopting the affirmative plan. mean that there is any probability associated with the outcome. 1992 [Director of the Fulton Debating Society at Boston College. Suppose an affirmative team advocated a plan which provided for increased military training of Bangladesh's army under the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET). Consider. then it has sufficiently demonstrated that there is no unique risk to adopting the affirmative plan. In this example. Third. evidence claiming that species extinction is the ultimate of all evils is not sufficient to prove that the affirmative case should be summarily rejected. causing them to lash-out as a way of reclaiming their influence in South Asia. p. an advocate is arguing that the disadvantage should already have occurred or will inevitably occur in the status quo. such reasoning makes a mockery of the concept of uniqueness arguments. we must rehabilitate the importance of uniqueness arguments in debate. an affirmative would argue that the President and/or Congress have routinely increased spending. Unfortunately.
Person-based validation will change when there is diminished trust in a particular person or when a highly regarded person provides invalidating information. and so on. Thus Reagan's confidence in the exaggerated assess-ments that there was a high probability that a Marxist regime in Grenada would pose a high threat to the United States was belief-based. In other words. especially core beliefs. confidence is rooted in the individual who is the source of the knowledge. May 23. for this and other reasons. pp. Ideologues. “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”. we tend to neglect the possibility that our own estimates may be incorrect. past experience (the person has proven himself in the past to be credible). The third source of confidence is belief-based validation. This is one of the reasons why human behaviour is even more difficult to predict than the behaviour of technical components. Vol. 331) It is essential. There are occasions when decisions are influenced by worries about possible dangers although we have only a vague idea about what these dangers might look like. The Method Lab . It is not known what influence this bias may have on risk analysis. Instead. The user does not care about how knowledge was generated. http://www. Similarly. the risks in a nuclear reactor depend on how the personnel act both under normal and extreme conditions. Here context determines the reliability of knowledge. Humans come into probability estimates in one more way: It is humans who make these estimates. Recent debates on biotechnology are an example of this. they will proceed to the next level in the hierarchy. If the most preferred criterion cannot be applied in their judgment of reliability. In person-based validation. identified risks have had only a limited role in these debates. with no influence from human agency. No. 1995.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 15 Alternative – Expert Opinion [ ] Expert opinion is critical to assessing probabilities for risk calculus Vertzberger. Confidence in a particular person may derive from several sources: innate qualities (like charisma). but it certainly has a potential to create errors in the analysis.html#bondi Technological risks depend not only on the behaviour of technological components. Israel (Yaacov Y. Specific. Decision-makers will start by applying their most preferred criterion. It would indeed be difficult to find an example of a technological system in which failure rates depend exclusively on its technical components. Professor at the Department of International Relations. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”. In this case. 2006. It stemmed from his intense belief in the evil motives driving such regimes and their unavoidable subordination to the interest of the Soviet Union.org/stable/3791835) Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making issues. affective qualities (such as liking). 16. or that the preference for reliance on belief-based validation was an error. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. but who is disseminating it. The risks associated with one and the same technology can differ drastically between organizations with different attitudes to risk and safety. Judgment of the reliability of value and probability assessments will relate to this hierarchy. Belief-based validation is the most difficult to discredit because beliefs. 347-380. 2. http://scholar. Vertzberger. the identity of the person delivering the knowledge is of little consequence to the user. are inclined to use this validation criterion. Hence. Situation-based validation is based on the premise that in particular situations the information either cannot be manipulated and therefore can be trusted or the source of information has no incentive to manipulate information because the costs are too high or the gains are marginal. such as environmental hazards. (Lichtenstein.lib. Preference for one source of validation over another has important implications for the increase or decrease of confidence levels over time. each step representing a lower level of confidence. Epistemic-based validation has built-in rules for discrediting or falsifying currently held assessments. psychological studies indicate that we have a tendency to be overly confident in our own probability estimates. but also on human behaviour. Practically the only quick way of convincing a decision-maker relying on belief-based validation to change is by reframing the information in a manner that will convince the decision-maker that it is not congruent any longer with his or her beliefs. [ ] Expert opinion is critical to assessing probabilities for risk calculus Hansson. 1982. June 1995.jstor. to make a clear distinction between those probability values that originate in experts' estimates and those that are known through observed frequencies.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson. I. In this case. an established relationship (a long-time friend). the focus has been on vague or unknown dangers such as the creation of new life-forms with unforeseeable properties. which is applied when the observer distrusts his or her information sources. and other reasons. where they perceive these criteria as relevant. risks in road traffic depend to a large degree on the behaviour of motorists. such as former President Ronald Reagan. people tend to devise a hierarchy of their most preferred to least preferred validation criteria. Being cognitive misers. even if the knowledge is methodologically flawed. Political Psychology. change very slowly. 2006. Unfortunately. The fourth and least important source is situation-based validation. moving down the list of preferences. knowledge that conforms or is congruent with important beliefs of the user will be considered as valid. professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove.
then there is no reason for us to talk about that explosion as a risk. then there is no reason either to talk about risk. professor in philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove. 1989. 41-43). When a bridge-builder discusses the risk that a bridge will collapse. It is possible. Israel (Yaacov Y. 2006. p. regulators. and Renn. finding out what they are. we also want to determine how big they are. (Otway 1987) The aim of this discipline is to produce as exact knowledge as possible about risks. pp. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Risks are unwanted phenomena. No. it is negatively value-laden. see Bradbury. The word "risk" is used in many senses that are often not sufficiently distinguished between. May 23. 1979.jstor. not least among managers. whereas uncertainty exists when a decision-maker has neither the knowledge of nor the objective probabilities distribution of the outcomes associated with an event (Kobrin. 17-18). "[T]he word risk now means danger. is information-oriented and connotes a state of incomplete information.lib. We then use the word "risk" to denote the event that caused the unwanted event. that although the relevant problem dimensions are known. What we refer to as a risk of explosion is a situation in which it is not known whether or not an explosion will take place. high risk means a lot of danger. Similarly. uncertainty entails even lack of information regarding what dimensions are relevant to the description of the risk-set associated with a particular case of intervention. These definitions tend to overlook outcome values. 1990. rather than the unwanted event itself: (2) risk = the cause of an unwanted event which may or may not occur. or that aeroembolism is a serious risk in deep-sea diving. The tourist who hopes for a sunny week talks about the "risk" of rain.. 16. Although many have tried to make the concept of risk as objective as possible. If we know for certain that there will be an explosion in a factory. if we know that no explosion will take place." There are more distinctions to be made. (1) risk = an unwanted event which may or may not occur. Uncertainty. and others who decide on the choice and use of technologies. i. pp. knowledge about risk is knowledge about the unknown. Indeed.. This is defined as descriptive uncertainty. their values are not.vt. they are almost sure to use "risk" as a synonym of probability. on a fundamental level it is an essentially value-laden concept.) Risk must be approached in a nontechnical manner.e. However. behavioral. or an electrical engineer investigates the risk of power failure. But to what extent can risks be known? Risks are always connected to lack of knowledge. Such knowledge is much in demand. 3. In addition to identifying the risks. 1982. such as those posed by important politico-military issues. taking into account the environmental context in which these behaviors take place. and hence the common distinction between risk and uncertainty is neither realistic nor practical when applied to the analysis of nonquantifiable and ill-defined problems. At the most extreme case. 1987). http://www. p. risks are so strongly associated with probabilities that we often use the word "risk" to denote the probability of an unwanted event rather than that event itself. The numerical value most often used for this purpose is the probability of the event in question. 2006. and social sciences joined to create a new interdisciplinary subject. also March & Shapira. [ ] Risk assessment must focus on probability – this mirrors the real world and is the most precise method Hansson. This is usually done by assigning to each risk a numerical value that indicates its size or seriousness. 2. Let us consider four of the most common ones. It is therefore a quite problematic type of knowledge. What is risk? As a real-life construct of human behavior. however. I. http://scholar. The language of risk is reserved as a specialized lexical register for political talk about undesirable outcomes" (Douglas. 347-380. 1977. Vol.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 16 Alternative – Prioritize Probability [ ] Risk is based on the knowledge of the probability of an outcome Vertzberger.org/stable/3791835) risk has to be viewed as a compendium that represents a complex interface among a particular set of behaviors and outcome expectations. Vertzberger.. In this sense.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson. natural. (For a review of various social science approaches to the concept of risk. June 1995. The Method Lab . growing public concern with new technologies gave rise to a new field of applied science: the study of risk. pp. This is how we use the word "risk" when we say that lung cancer is one of the major risks that affect smokers. 1995. Researchers from the technological. Professor at the Department of International Relations. More precisely. 70. risk analysis. The classical distinction found in economics between risk and uncertainty postulates that risk exists when decision-makers have perfect knowledge of all possible outcomes associated with an event and the probability distribution of their occurrence. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”. on the other hand. Yet the term "risk" in everyday language and as commonly understood by decision-makers has a utility-oriented connotation. but the farmer whose crops are threatened by drought will refer to the possibility of rain as a "chance" rather than a "risk. This terminology is particularly common in engineering applications. “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”. Political Psychology. 1992. this is defined as measurement uncertainty (Rowe.html#bondi Beginning in the late 1960's. we may also describe smoking as a (health) risk or tell a diver that going below 30 meters is a risk not worth taking.
Many scientists and members of the risk assessment community "have not as yet come to grips with the foundational issue about the meaning of probability and the various interpretations that can be attached to the term probability. for it is how one views probability that determines one attitude toward a statistical procedure" (Singpurwalla 182). Thompson and Parkinson found a difficulty in risk assessment associated with mini-max arguments that they identified as the problem of risk tails.vt. But to what extent can quantification be achieved without distorting the true nature of the risks involved? As we have just seen. 2000. professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove. The tails represent high-consequence low-probability risk and low-consequence high-probability risk" (552). . pages 53-73) The strength of the relationship between the claims in extended arguments rests on the probability of the causation between and among the simple claims. Probability is challenging to define. (Lem 142) In simple arguments. "Risk tails are the segments of the standard risk curve which approach the probability and consequence axes. [ ] Probability is the most important aspect of an argument Berube. The relationship between each claim in an extended argument is moderated by its probability. the crucial issue in the quantification of risk is the determination of probabilities. We employ the notion of probability when we do not know a thing with certainty. Subjective probability is a compass for an informational disability. Associate Professor of Speech Communication and Director of Debate at the University of South Carolina (David M. is the site of mini-max computation. established practices for quantifying risks cannot be used. especially the high-consequence lowprobability tail. 2000. Berube. he would not need the cane. 2006. 2006. a cane for a blind man. and no one can know). "risks are simply the product of probability and consequence" (Thompson & Parkinson 552). This region. From a decision-maker's point of view. but someone else may know) or objective (no one knows. The Method Lab . and if I knew which horse was the fastest. Probability is. so to speak.html#bondi it is useful to have risks quantified so that they can easily be compared and prioritized.cedadebate. http://scholar.org/CAD/2000_berube. “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”. But our uncertainty is either purely subjective (we do not know what will take place. he uses it to feel his way.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson. “Debunking mini-max reasoning: the limits of extended causal chains in contest debating” http://www. Therefore. This is extremely important. Without probabilities.pdf. If he could see.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 17 Alternative – Prioritize Probability [ ] Probability is necessary for the quantification of risk Hansson.. . May 23. probabilities are needed for both of the common types of quantification of risk (the third and fourth senses of risk). I would not need probability theory.lib.
we need to reject the notion that contest debating would be impossible without [mini-max debating} them. Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of South Carolina. and you may get cancer from the tap water. 64-69] If extended arguments using mini-max reasoning is so indefensible. Here is one rationale why it might be imprudent to reject all instances involving mini-max claims. p. Debate judges routinely accept minimal risks which would be summarily dismissed by business and political leaders. And so it. The tests fall into three general categories: probability and confidence. In addition. we need to realize that some risks are so trivial that they are simply not meaningful. Professor of Communication at Boston College. In other words. and you're really asking for it. 1012] First. While it has been argued that our leaders should take these risks more seriously. the fix would need to be designed by agents similarly motivated. As the Chicago Tribune aptly noted. we must consider the increment of the risk. what can we do? Surprisingly. For example. we need to recognize that at some point a risk becomes so small that it should be ignored. so do agents who are acting within the same agency. IL).Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 18 Alternative – Threshold Probability [ ] The alternative to Infinite risk is Threshold probability – we should ignore risks that fall below a minimal level of probability Dale Herbeck. Debaters could use their plans and counterplans to stipulate the internal link and uniqueness stories for their extended arguments. we believe that many judges err in assessing any weight to such speculative arguments. Brush your teeth. Start downstairs to put on the coffee. Alternatively. We could demand a greater responsibility on the part of arguers making mini-max claims (a subject approached below). 1992 [Director of the Fulton Debating Society at Boston College. indulging in leisure time. October 29th-November 1st. we need to understand that burdens of proof associated with extended arguments involving mini-max reasoning are not always extraordinary. we should be willing to ignore minimal risks in debates. As a starting point.-Israeli foreign relations come from different disciplines and worldviews (different directions) and are less likely to share motivations which might prevent their capability to interpose end stops into a particular series of occurrences.” Paper Presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Chicago. debaters may select to discuss ideas as we have seen in the recent trend toward kritik debating. All too often. coming home. but rather to suggest that there is a point beneath which probabilities are meaningless.17 Further. agents able to intercede between civil rights legislation and U. Volume 21. the answer is quite a lot. having lunch. consequently focusing the debate on probability assessment and away from exaggerated impacts. Accessed 04-052008. Consider these two questions. advocates should focus on the initial probability. and we risk electrocution. With these caveats out of the way and assuming some mini-max extended arguments are more reliable than others.org/CAD/2000_berube. going back to bed. Available Online at http://www. breathing the air. The reason the second extended argument should be more presumptive is simply because interceding variables that might preclude the consequence are less reliable than in the first scenario because they would be derivative. To avoid this temptation.000 Americans die in home falls each year. Just like "realist" foreign policy theorists may think too much alike.S. Available Online via ERIC Number ED354559. I offer these tests merely as suggestions and in full awareness of the fact that they hardly exhaust the potential checks on extended arguments using mini-max reasoning.commuting to work. Turn on the light. because it may lead to a war in the Middle East? Should we refrain from building a plutonium reprocessing plant nearby to avoid the heightened incidence of cancer? We might accept the second more regularly than the first. and still not be compelling. Unlike the second scenario. we routinely dismiss the probability of grave impacts because they are not meaningful: It begins as soon as we awake. [ ] The alternative to mini max arguments is to disregard low probabilities – this restores rationality to decisionmaking David Berube. and not on the marginal doubling of the risk claimed by the negative.” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate.pdf. Second. is to recognize that there is a line beyond which probability is not meaningfully evaluated. The Method Lab .18 Just as we ignore these risks in our own lives. This is not to argue that all low probability/high impact arguments should be ignored.cedadebate. This might be true. The solution. working. 2000 [Director of Debate “Debunking Mini-max Reasoning: The Limits Of Extended Causal Chains In Contest Debating. of course. given current evidence and formats of debate. p. goes throughout the day -. several hundred people are killed each year in accidents involving home wiring or appliances. and perceptual bias. “The Use and Abuse of Risk Analysis in Policy Debate. scenario construction. Should we decide to forego a civil rights initiative in the U. that a plan might cause a 1 in 10. We do not believe it is possible to conclude. even if it were possible. and foremost. I propose a number of tests by which the strength of particular mini-max extended arguments might be adduced.000 increase in the risk of nuclear conflagration. if the original risk was itself insignificant. disadvantages claim that the plan will dramatically increase the risk of nuclear war. about 7.S. it means little to double the probability of nuclear war if the original probability was only 1 in one million. The problem with low probability arguments in debate is that they have taken on a life of their own.
. “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”. however. and there is often considerable uncertainty with respect to the dangers that it may give rise to. we can arguably say that the size of the risk is the same in both cases. Additional information about its social context is also needed.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 19 They Say “Risk = Probability times impact = infinity” [ ] Basing risk assessment on impact times size makes assessment too indeterminate – it ignores subjectivities in how to measure and evaluate expectations Hansson. 2006. First. More generally speaking. when all probabilities are known with certainty (or at least beyond reasonable doubt). probability-weighing is normatively controversial. however. May 23.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson. The social and environmental effects of a new technology can seldom be fully grasped beforehand.vt. Most of the time we have to deal with dangers without knowing their probabilities. “The Epistemology of Technological Risk”. (Porter 1991) Risk analysis has. http://scholar. In particular. May 23. i. these decisions have more in common with entering an unexplored jungle. The Method Lab .html#bondi In real life we are seldom in a situation like that at the roulette table. Although the expectation values are the same. In actual fact. The underlying assumption is that there is an objective. 2006. (O'Riordan and Cameron 1994. professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove. however. if we want to know the probability that the airbag in a certain make of car fails to release in a collision. Risk analysts often exhibit the tuxedo syndrome: they proceed as if decisions on technologies were made under conditions analogous to gambling at the roulette table. moral reasons can be given to regard one of these two situations as more serious than the other.html#bondi In risk-benefit analysis. However. then we can determine its probability by collecting and analysing that experience. It makes a difference if it is myself or someone else that I expose to a certain danger in order to earn myself a fortune. 2006. and pays no attention to how risks and benefits are distributed or connected. and often we do not even know what dangers we have ahead of us.When there is statistically sufficient experience of an eventtype.lib. when in fact they do not.vt. O'Riordan et al 2001) The other problem with the expectation value approach is that it assesses risks only according to their probabilities and the severity of their consequences. http://scholar.edu/ejournals/SPT/v9n2/hansson. that the risk is equally acceptable in the two cases. if we use expectation values to measure the size of risks. Hence. Hence. This is also the standard meaning of risk in several branches of risk research.lib. risks are measured in terms of their expectation values. a strong tendency towards quantification.e. Most people's appraisals of risks are influenced by factors other than these. we should collect statistics from the accidents in which such cars were involved. such as a machine failure. The tuxedo syndrome is dangerous since it may lead to an illusion of control. proponents of a precautionary approach maintain that prevention against large but improbable accidents should be given a higher priority than what would ensue from an expectation value analysis. In particular. This is true not least in the development of new technologies. [ ] Indeterminate risk assessment is counterproductive – it creates the illusion of objectivity and masks dangers Hansson. 2006. in studies of risk perception the standard approach is to compare the degree of severity that subjects assign to different risk factors ("subjective risk") to the expectation values that have been calculated for the same risk factors ("objective risk"). In contrast. this measure of risk is problematic for at least two fundamental reasons. knowable risk level that can be calculated with the expectation value method. the systematic comparison of risks with benefits. If the expectation value is the same in both cases. the relations between the persons affected by risks and benefits are important in most people's appraisals of risks. the expectation value method treats risks as impersonal entities. professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology (Sven Ove. It does not follow. this must be done with the reservation that the size of a risk is not all that we need to in order to judge whether or not it can be accepted. A risk of 1 in 1000 that 1000 persons will die is very different from a risk of 1 in 10 that 10 persons will die. Risk analysts and those whom they advice may believe that they know what the risks are and how big they are.
but contest debaters and policy makers have not risen to the challenge. Conditional probabilities are most often associated with calculations involving variables that may be even remotely associated. Unfortunately.” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate. If we use this calculus to draw our claims. errors are likely to be shared and replicated. that is. Vol. the probability that I will hit my funny bone and then utter an obscenity is not equal to the product of the probabilities. When we are uncertain about a probability. 9.it isn’t real world and is impossible to determine David Berube.10. [ ] The use of magnitude times probability doesn’t work. 2005). Hermansson. "There are cases in which each testimony seems unreliable (i. Iss.that is. it is not sufficient to know the values and probabilities of its possible outcomes. 2003. An interesting caveat involves conditional probability.10. The probability that I will hit my funny bone at any given instant is also small. The Method Lab . For instance. We feel it is less likely that two or more sources are incorrect than that a single source will be. However. one must also consider whether or not they are correlated . but with conditional probabilities . (Krause 67) Hence. the probability that I will utter an obscenity at any given instance may be small (although it is certainly not zero). However. For example. We also need to know who performs the action and with what intentions. the product of their probabilities and values" (238). p. Another complication of extended causal chains is the corroboration principle. According to the traditional multiplication theorem. neither PRA nor risk-benefit analysis provides decision-makers with all the information that they need in order to make risk management decisions. it is a persuasive pipe-dream.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 20 They Say “Risk = Probability times impact = infinity” [ ] Probability times magnitude does not take real world event into account and does not work in decision making – it denies decision makers crucial information and flexibility Hansson professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology 2007 [Hélène Hermansson. 64-69] The complex probabilities of extended arguments are problematic. such is not the case. . if it is accepted by /her in order to obtain some benefit otherwise not obtainable. 3. If they are correlated. "To determine the level of net benefits achieved by a policy system when multiple outcomes are considered.the chances that some event will occur when some set of previous conditions exists" (Krause 67). it makes a moral difference if someone risks /her own life or that of somebody else in order to earn a fortune for/herself. Risks do not just "exist" as free-floating entities. Volume 21. If the probability of AaB is . pg. In order to appraise an action of risktaking or risk imposition from a moral point of view. Witness some of the problems associated with realism in international relations literature. 16 pgs JSTOR] In other words. Accessed 04-05-2008. we are surely going to be inclined to accept them" (Cohen 72). Probabilistic risk analysis (PRA) is a highly useful tool that provides risk managers with important information. then the probability of AaC is .5 probability) on its own. . and the probability of the 2nd in the supposition the 1st happens" (Bayes 299). 129. risk is defined as the product of probability and severity. While corroboration seems valid.pdf. calculating probabilities would be easy. "Its expositors hold that we should not concern ourselves with absolute probabilities. and the final probability may actually be much larger than one will predict if one makes this error. Lichtman and Rohrer described what happens to systems analysis in a contest debate two decades ago. It also makes a difference if risk-taking is freely chosen by the affected person. If one considers the probability of many separate events occurring. If the probability of CaD is also . "if we calculate a priori the probability of the occurred event and the probability of an event composed of that one and a second one which is expected. Risk Management.org/CAD/2000_berube. As such. or imposed against /her will (Hansson. drawn from the observed event" (Laplace 15). [I]f both testimonies are genuinely independent and fully agree with one another. While contest debating has borrowed heavily from policymaking and systems analysis. Available Online at http://www.. For example. has less than 0. then the probability of AaD is . The ethics of risk-taking and risk imposition concerns problems of agency and interpersonal relationships that cannot be adequately expressed in a framework that operates exclusively with the probabilities and severities of outcomes. In particular. important ethical aspects are not covered in these forms of risk analysis.e. such as phenomena in international relations. the multiplication theorem has been subverted by conditional probabilities and undercut by corroboration. Basingstoke: Jul 2007. If all we had to do to determine probability involved multiplying fractions.001.cedadebate. with which it can be combined in the form of risk-benefit analysis. "The probability that two subsequent events will both happen is a ratio compounded of the probability of the 1st. too much reliance is given an extended link story when each step in the link exhibits a probability that is geometrically self-effacing. it has not resolved the causality issues any better than have policy studies experts. which have no relevance to things as they are.10 and the probability of BaC is also . the probabilities of AaB and BaC and CaD are multiplied. the second probability divided by the first will be the probability of the event expected. One of its advantages is its commensurability with economic analysis.01. Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of South Carolina. for all anticipated results. even though the combination of the two testimonies is rather persuasive. 2000 [Director of Debate “Debunking Mini-max Reasoning: The Limits Of Extended Causal Chains In Contest Debating. if a story is drawn from AaBaCaD. policy makers simply sum. The grand calculus used in systems analysis is as simplistic as it is in contest debating. whether or not they are truly independent. Sven Ove Hansson. simply multiplying individual probabilities will not give you the correct estimate. that /she has full information about the risk and is capable of making the decision/herself. . they are taken or imposed. we might try to engage multiple sources making the same or same-like claim. since the probability of swearing at a given instant is correlated to the probability of hurting myself at a given instant.
” Paper Presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Chicago. Frank Yates observed that "the average person has problems identifying potential risks and deciding how likely they are to occur. IL). we believe that the illusion of objectivity masks several serious problems with risk analysis as it is presently utilized in academic debate."5 Definitions such as this are really suggesting that risk is nothing more than the probability of encountering negatively-valued events. while the negative argues that the plan will cause risks. Vincent Follert offered this example drawn from the final round of the 1978 National Debate Tournament: After exposure to the same information. risk analysis provides a seemingly objective way of comparing the impact of competing policy options. October 29th-November 1st."9 In addition. be argued that debate judges trained in the use of risk analysis are better able to assess risks. Professor of Communication at Boston College. or perhaps. advocates attempt to prove the desirability of policies by demonstrating risks. it might appear that the introduction of risk analysis into academic debate would improve the quality of decisions rendered. it should be noted that it is extremely difficult to assess probability. In a debate. William Rowe defines risk as "the potential for harm. Unfortunately. In an article on risk which appeared in Psychology Today. In one of the few articles on risk analysis in the forensic literature. the policy that produces the lesser of evils. p. Available Online via ERIC Number ED354559. risk is a probability of a bad consequence. At the end of the debate. 10-12] Since risk analysis is drawn from the literature on policy making. risk analysis would seem to devalue the subjectivity inherent in the communication of information. The affirmative argues that the plan will prevent risks.10 It might of course. . 1992 [Director of the Fulton Debating Society at Boston College.6 Since negatively-valued events can differ drastically in consequence. "risk" means the consequences of an event multiplied by its probability (or frequency) of occurrence--or. however. it seems appropriate to rely on that literature to define the terms. The "Tyranny of Illusory Precision." "I am left with a substantial risk. While a number of problems might be identified. After all.? For the purposes of this paper. that risk analysis overvalues arguments with large impacts. J. The Abuse of Risk Analysis At first glance. is frequently not the case. it is necessary to add some means for valuing them to our equation. Further. to put it another way. the decision maker compares risk and opts for the policy that produces either the greatest benefit. the Ehrlich's definition of risk can be expressed in the following equation: RISK = PROBABILITY X IMPACT The utility of such a conception of risk should be obvious. Yates suggests that most of us overestimate the value of our own judgment in matters of common knowledge. in this paper we argue first that risk analysis artificially assigns probability to arguments and second. “The Use and Abuse of Risk Analysis in Policy Debate.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 21 They Say “Risk = Probability times impact = infinity” [ ] Viewing risk as probability times impact does not improve decision making – it relies on the illusion of objective numbers Dale Herbeck." "the affirmative goes a long way towards eliminating the risks ."8 At the outset. each judged reached what appeared to be substantially different estimates of the probability that the plan would prompt government cuts in the biomedical research budget: "Biomedical research would probably be cut as a result of the plan. This. of cuts. Recognizing this fact. Dr. . Paul and Anne Ehrlich define risk as follows: Risk is sometimes used as a synonym for "probability" in insurance policies--the risk of a loss. In analyzing issues like those discussed in this chapter."11 The Method Lab ." and "the risk of cuts seems less significant than the case.
com/deliver/connect/routledg/03 085147/v3 3n2s1. ‘Just how the catastrophic underwriter arrives at key decisions has proved a source of fascination for many years.pdf? expires=1245869868&id=50923937&titleid=737&accname=University+of+Michigan+At+Ann+Arbor&checksum= C2B09B34425421708F626ECAC89173E9] Insurers play key but often hidden roles in establishing preventive security and loss prevention infrastructures. national economies and business enterprises is a fundamental question for contemporary international political economy. this lacuna is especially remarkable because much of the debate hinges on how insurers make decisions as gatekeepers of risk and uncertainty at the frontiers of risk society. Richard V. p35-36. some 65070 of the participants were unwilling to insure at $500 against a .com/deliver/connect/routledg/03 085147/v3 3n2s1. [“Risk: A Philosophical Introduction to the Theory of Risk Evaluation and Management”. and asserts that insurance is only a system for compensating loss.ingentaconnect. Professor All Souls College. or private security operatives (ibid. (O’Malley 2003: 276) [ ] Extremely low probability moots the insurance principle Nicholas Rescher is an American philosopher. But in what sense does insurance control threats? Insurance is a means of distributing risks in order to provide compensation after the event. one important qualification must be made: If E. in vain. Their initiatives in this regard are increasingly within the precautionary principle. University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science at University of Pittsburgh. makes his assertions about insurability without empirical evidence regarding how the insurance industry actually operates in conditions of uncertainty. Ericson and Aaron Doyle. Similar comments have been made in other fields.000 while only some 25% were unwilling to insure at this same cost against a loss of some $2000 with a . insurance and terrorism. insurance and terrorism. University of Oxford 2004 [Catastrophe risk. electronic surveillance technologies.pdf? expires=1245869868&id=50923937&titleid=737&accname=University+of+Michigan+At+Ann+Arbor&checksum= C2B09B34425421708F626ECAC89173E9] Third. such as political science: ‘How and why the insurers and risk managers exercise such power over outcomes and with what consequences for the world market economy and for the allocation of values among social groups.] To be sure. In a gamesituation exercize conducted by Paul Slovic and his associates (see 78 Insurance Against Catastrophe Table 1). It does not ‘control’ the source of the risk any more than do such venerable methods as ‘state intervention’ in the form of disaster relief funding. http://docserver. For fifteen years I have waited.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 22 They Say “Insurance Principle” [ ] The Insurance Principle doesn’t apply – insurance compensates victims After a crisis – it doesn’t justify any preventive measures Richard Ericson. As Bougen observes.002 probability of a loss of around $250. which emphasizes that low frequency but high severity risks must be addressed through extraordinary control measures that reflect ‘zero tolerance’ and aspire to ‘zero risk’ (Ewald 2002). which distribute the impact of risks through taxation and related ‘spreading devices’. O’Malley criticizes Beck for claiming that the insurance industry influences the control of risks. 11 In game situations. 1983.). Ericson and Aaron Doyle. University of Oxford 2004 [Catastrophe risk. http://docserver. is small enough to be seen as "effectively zero" -if the untoward eventuation at issue is categorized as not representing a real possibility -then insurance becomes unnecessary.25 probability (despite the fact that the former loss represented a "catastrophe" that would have put them out of the game). for someone to write a definitive account’ (Strange 1996: 123). Richard V. whether based on environmental design. as in real life. yet literature on the topic is particularly scarce’ (2003: 258). people incline to dismiss small-probability eventuations as unreal -as something that can be omitted from the range of one's practical concerns. [ ] The Insurance principle is vague in its application to political debates Richard Ericson. In debates on risk society. as well as other participants in debates about risk society.ingentaconnect. Beck. The Method Lab . Professor All Souls College. 1983.
Distant negative consequences are under-weighed and perceived as less likely to occur. Vol. 1976). certain. (c) Multiplicity of time dimensions. this approach poses another difficulty. and decision-makers' risk preferences. and at what cost? 7. No. the more complex becomes the risk calculus. which are mostly ill-defined and contain hard-to-quantify variables. The less quantitatively measurable risk dimensions are more elusive and difficult to assess. namely: value. 5. the more likely are the risks to be recognized in time. The more interactive the various risk dimensions. June 1995. but rather focus on the likelihood and proximity of a situation – magnitude alone oversimplifies complex situations Vertzberger. 1972). For example. and the relations among attributes are interactive. Decision-makers rely therefore on a more complex and differentiated comparison based on the texture of risk. the complexity of the choice reduces the decision-maker's comprehension of the task and becomes a source of anxiety because of the increased probability of making the wrong decision. whether or not all risky effects are expected to occur within the same time frame (e. these risk attributes are presented as mutually exclusive. The Method Lab . irreversible. Risk accountability. Israel (Yaacov Y. Moreover. political). But along with the problem of producing a unified single measurement of risk in real-life political-strategic con-texts. Risk complexity. Will decision-makers be held responsible by the public for adverse consequences? If so. How certain is it that any particular adverse outcome will materialize? If risks are unanticipated. the less complex the related risk calculus is.g. 8. Political Psychology. 1976. and social risk in particular. irreversible risky decisions that would result in controllable risk are more acceptable than similar decisions that result in uncontainable risks. although this is not the only driving motive of choice. Risk horizon. choice preferences are often shaped by the criterion of which policy options are easier to explain and justify (Ranyard. the more directly accountable a decision-maker is to the public. 16. Vertzberger. Risk transparency. Although for analytic purposes. 2. What. is a complex phenomenon with many attributes. Tversky. 79). Comparing risks is an essential task in the process of choice between risky options. p. This has distinctive effects on the way in which decision-makers compare risks. Risk controllability and containability. To explain these. 6. military. Risk certainty. the more transparent. Risk reversibility. that is. 347-380. whether they are all short. severe. pp. probability. This is apt to diminish perceived validity of value and probability assessments and increase risk aversiveness. How serious and damaging are the perceived consequences of a decision or situation? 3.or long-term consequences. Are risky decisions reversible once they are made. proximate. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”.g. and therefore have only a minor impact on decisions (Bjorkman. (d) Interactivity of dimensions. and uncontrollable risks are. This implies that similar situations will represent dissimilar levels of risk depending on prior anticipation and prepa-ration. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. the more vivid and salient they will seem and the more weight they will be given. considered as relevant.. 2. 1995. 1984. Therefore. 4. Complexity can be assessed using four criteria: (a) The measurability of risk. As a rule. Professor at the Department of International Relations. Although people may make a choice based on magnitude alone. are the attributes that define the texture of risk? 1. what is the magnitude of personal-political cost that they will have to bear? "As a general rule. the more likely it is that public perceptions will receive consideration in priority setting" (Ka-sper. economic. severity could affect accountability. the more change in one risk dimension affects the level of risk in other dimensions. For example. and given higher importance in the shaping of decisions. Also the more accountable decision-makers are. Even when risky decisions are irreversible. namely. the more likely is the decision-maker to ignore most or many of the dimensions and concentrate on one or a few of the most immediate and salient. which is a set of risk-defining attributes. How close in time are the adverse consequences? The closer in time they are. in reality such clear-cut distinctions are rare.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 23 They Say “Magnitude is the Most Important” [ ] Policy decision-makers should never rely on magnitude alone. (b) Variability of issue dimensions. the biases that affect risk perceptions. or both). How ambiguous or well understood are the risky consequences of a decision? Debates among experts and policy advisers are likely to increase doubts among decisionmakers regarding whether the risks of a particular policy are really understood. 1980. The most obvious approach to the task is to compare the magnitudes of 357 risk represented by the competing options. that is. Risk severity. complexity could affect transparency. especially when the options are clearly differentiated into high-and low-risk ones. the range of issue-areas affected by risk dimensions (e. it makes a difference if the risks generated by the decision are controllable and containable or not. we introduce in this section the concepts of the texture of risk and the taste for risk.org/stable/3791835) Risk. The more complex the risk calculus. http://www. I. Any combination of these attributes will affect risk preference either directly or indirectly through their impact on any single or all three constituent components of risk. this usually is not the case when the risk variance between options is moderate or low. Milbur & Billings.. then. the level of perceived risk will be much higher because of surprise and the lack of available resources required to cope with risks as they emerge. and validity.jstor.
I. and that includes the decision not to decide. But nonintervention meant the risk of Iraq's con-trolling the lion's share of the world's oil supply. No. In such cases the choice is not between risk-taking and risk aversion. A broader view of risk should take into account that risk avoidance in the short run (such as refusing to deploy troops) may sometimes turn out in the long run to be a very risky decision.org/stable/3791835) Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making incorrect identification of risk-taking with active policy choices. Even though decision-makers often equate passivity with risk avoidance. The Method Lab . Political Psychology. Consider. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”. A passive. Vertzberger. June 1995. Israel (Yaacov Y. Intervention. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. for example. involved the risk of military hostilities with Iraq. but between different types of risk. 347-380.jstor. Professor at the Department of International Relations. of course. "stick in the mud" (Mandel.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 24 They Say “Presumption” [ ] Risk calculus cannot skew toward the status quo – similar risks are inherent in Inaction Vertzberger. http://www. the options the United States faced with respect to military intervention in the Gulf. 16. Vol. pp. or of a future confrontation with a nuclear Iraq. there are no risk-free choices. It follows that in the case of intervention. In other words. 1987) policy may also entail risk-taking by attempting to preserve the status quo and ignoring environmental signals that indicate a need for initiative and change. risk-taking is not necessarily congruent with decisions that increase the chance of violence by armed intervention. avoiding active decisions may in some cases actually entail more risk than making an active choice. 2. 1995.
where investors tend to clearly define their acceptable risk levels. Risk. No amount of data is a substitute for judgment. let alone become an integral part of the political decision-making culture. Published by: Sep. Adomeit.jstor. it has been practically ignored in that domain of human affairs where risk is perennial and has a most critical relevance-international politics and. and Public Policy. in stock market gambles. jstor] In the future.. 1982. relating to a broad range of human activities such as medicine. Huth et al. affective. we can make risk assessments – objectivity can never replace the need for subjective decision making William Ruckelshaus Former Director of the EPA.g. our current state of knowledge of risk in international politics is incomplete and is lacking in systematic conceptualization.lar substance. or behavioral construct? Is it a uniform construct? And are risks in all areas of human life similar in nature? It is surprising that while the construct of risk and its behavioral implications have been singled out for extensive study in most areas of current social science research. of course. Vol. Vol. 2. that are of interest to students and practitioners of foreign policy fall outside the purview of the theoretical knowl-edge of risk accumulated in other disciplines.ty of the substances examined. This is manifested in the ongoing debate on such questions as. 9. technology. including the toxici. 1026-1028. The Method Lab . professor at the Department of International Relations. Political Psychology. 347-380.lations exposed. 221. this being an imperfect world. and others. Israel (Yaacov Y. What consitutes good judgment in political issues? Are there criteria that can clearly distinguish good decisions from poor decisions? What differentiates reasonable risk-taking from adventurous risk-taking? In a word. Further. But what exactly do we mean by "risky decisions"? How can we define risk scientifically as an analytic construct. and foreign policy decision-makers in particular. Risk Management Although there is an objective way to assess risk. Vertzberger. a consensual normative framework that distinguishes the gambler from the astute responsible statesman is yet to emerge.. 1983 [Science. interna-tional security issues. no purely objective way to manage it. environmental studies. risk assessment at EPA must be based only on scientific evidence and scientific consensus. 1973. 1995. Many aspects of risk. on the other hand. Nothing will erode public confidence faster than the suspi. is probability oriented. This is not the case. nor can we ignore the subjective perception of risk in the ultimate management of a particu. To do so would be to place too much credence in our objective data and ignore the possibility that occasion. and the resources avail. rather than as a gut feeling of danger or discomfort? Is risk a cognitive. In politics. for example. even if it cannot be precisely defined Vertzberger. New Series. Vertzberger decision-makers. The main reason for this difference is that in business there exist shared consensual norms of what are reasonable business practices. Despite these often conflicting pressures.cion that policy considerations have been allowed to influence the assessment of risk.latory timetable. eco-nomics. 16. an area that has generated extensive research on risk-taking.ally one's intuition is right. there is.org/stable/3791835) Decisions involving risk in politics are different from similar decisions in business. industry. 1992) adopt and implement the classic technical definition of risk that views risk as a product of the probability and consequences of a potentially adverse event. [ ] Even without exact probability thresholds. 4615 pp. 1981..ed by many factors. Source: Science. This definition draws its inspi-ration from the gambling metaphor. No. http://www. are not accus-tomed to defining precisely and systematically their level of acceptable risk prior to making a decision. we must search for ways to describe risk in terms that the average citizen can comprehend. I.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 25 They Say “Probability is Impossible to Calculate” [ ] Risk assessment and probability is essential when making policy-relevant analysis. pp. the popu. specifically. Lamborn 1991. the rigor and thoroughness of our risk analyses will undoubtedly be affect. the pressure of the regu. and is inadequate for capturingt he essence of risk in internationalp olitics. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”. June 1995. No. The few studies that emphasize risk in the field of international relations( e. Bueno de Mesquita.able. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
can be found in three determinants: information. 16. These attributes also explain differences and similarities in decision-makers' responses across risky situations. We argue that decision-makers. Motivation without information will produce wishful thinking-or its counterpart. No. only that it pays to be somewhat skeptical of the quantitative results of risk assessments and to recognize that the appearance of great accuracy that precise numbers in such analyses carry with them is spurious" (Kasper. explains the cross-decisional diversity of risk preferences. because perceptions of these attributes and the tastes for risk may be dissimilar across decision-makers so that their mapping of the same situation will result in different definitions of the situation and risk assessments. This set of risk attributesc an be found in every risky situation. http://www. The taste for risk.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 26 They Say “Probability is Impossible to Calculate” [ ] Statistical quantification of risk is not possible but underlying conceptual principles can act as guidelines for decision Vertzberger. one that consists of a particularc ombi-nation of or emphasis on the risk attributes that were specified above. the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. make it extremely difficult to compare risks because these attributes are not easily translated into common measures.org/stable/3791835) These multiple attributes. The interested reader can consult the following literature: Steinberger.( A detailedd iscussion of the quality of risk judgments is beyond the scope of this study. June 1995. 1990. 1986. Lowrance. Israel (Yaacov Y. especially for ill-defined and hard-to-model problems. then. which characterize social and political risk-taking. and motivation. 1993. Imaginationu nconstrainedb y a broad and valid information base may yield paranoia. Vol. 1980. Information without imagination and motivation is not likely to yield an astuter isk assessment. and Tetlock. in dollar terms). self-serving assessment.) Closely related to the concept of risk texture is the concept of the taste for risk. The problems involved are hard to model and do not have a sufficientlyw ell-defined and quantifiables tructuret o be adequately represented by such abstract mathematical models. Political Psychology. are not perceived by decision-makers as similar risks. "This is not to say that quantitative risk assessments are not useful or illuminating. These tastes reflect a preferencef or particularr isks over others even if the magnitudes of the compared risks are similar. Risks that are of the same magnitude (as measured. but represent different combinations of risk attributes. (2) the likelihood that they will be open-minded and imaginative about those aspects of the problem about which hard data are unavailable. and their ability to understandt he risks involved. Vertzberger. the con-ceptual principles that underlie statistical decision theory are valid and when interpreted qualitatively may act as guidelines for risk assessment even when quantification is not possible (Dror. These tastes express a preferencef or a particulart extureo f risk. 2. It is for this reason that risk assessment in politico-military decisions can rarely make effective use of statistical decision theory in its formal mathematical guise. Sternberg. The accuracy of decision-makers' perceptions of these risk attributesd eterminesa numbero f importanti ssues: (1) their sensitivity to the completeness or incompleteness of their information about the problem. 1971.jstor. Strauch. 74). Professor at the Department of International Relations. The key. to the accuracy and comprehensiveness of risk assessment processes. and hallucination. 1980.T hey provide the coordinates that describe the situation and allow for comparisons with other risk situations. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”. 1992. aworst-casea nalysiso f the situation. The Method Lab . have individ-ual tastes for risk. 347-380. Still. imagination. Attempts to quantify political and social risks are therefore subject to suspicion. pp. p. (3) their motivation to analyze and deal with those aspects whose treatment is awkward or unpleasant. for example. by emphasizing that each risky problem has a unique texture. like consumers in economics. 1995. I. 1980).
Volume 21. p. We expect the critic in a contest debate to assess the strength of an extended argument and resolve its disposition. we have learned highly unlikely accidents in a chaotic system are ordered (Butz). once any system is dominated by highly unlikely accidents. 2000 [Director of Debate “Debunking Mini-max Reasoning: The Limits Of Extended Causal Chains In Contest Debating. Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of South Carolina. simply contain an enormous number of highly unlikely accidents?" (105).org/CAD/2000_berube. they cannot be prioritized in risk calculus. Accessed 04-05-2008. However.pdf. If so. 64-69] Tooley posed an even more intriguing question: "Does our world. it makes such a probability calculation thomy. Recently. when the consequence is nearly infinite. The Method Lab . The proponent of a mini-max disadvantage would want you to believe that such is true. because they distort the process David Berube. Debaters seldom provide critics with a discussion of multiplicational versus correlational probability assessments. Predicting unpredictability is paradoxical.” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate. the logic of the extended argument corrod es. then. Available Online at http://www. and often substitute simple corroboration for probability assessments.cedadebate.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 27 They Say “Even Improbable Impacts sometimes Occur” [ ] Even if highly improbable events do occur. Unfortunately for proponents of extended mini-max arguments. the extended mini-max argument might be one such ordering.
Experts agree. Perhaps our experience with risk analysis in debate can inform our understanding of the crisis rhetoric which we confront on an almost daily basis. it is a political act. The best check on such preposterous claims. 2000 [Director of Debate “Debunking Mini-max Reasoning: The Limits Of Extended Causal Chains In Contest Debating.” Paper Presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Chicago. By comparison.cedadebate.21 The Method Lab . Critics of the laboratory metaphor have argued that we have failed as scientists. "Whoever controls the definition of risk controls the rational solution to the problem at hand.” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate. they categorize the activity as foolish. Frighteningly enough. policies driven by the consideration of high consequences. For example. is decidedly superior to alternative methods for comparing policies. When probability assessments are eliminated from risk calculi. We should not ignore Charles Richet's adage: "The stupid man is not the one who does not understand something . While adding little to policy analysis. for we have produced little of consequence in our lab. on the whole. Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of South Carolina. they need to be debunked. as is the case in minimax risk arguments.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 28 They Say “Focusing on Risk Calculus Distracts Education” [ ] Infinite risk arguments undermine the educational value of debate because they make it impossible for the real world to take policy debate seriously David Berube. then one option will rise to the top as the most cost-effective or the safest or the best.but the man who understands it well enough yet acts as if he didn't" (Tabori 6). It is sometimes argued that debate is a laboratory for testing argumentation. “The Use and Abuse of Risk Analysis in Policy Debate. and all political acts need to be scrutinized with a critical lens. Professor of Communication at Boston College. will lead to high levels of public investment" (Nehnevajsa 521). 10-12] While the four suggestions offered in this paper may seem simplistic. despite low probabilities. we hope that the alternatives can serve as useful guides for judges in policy debates. Available Online at http://www. we believe that they could dramatically improve the use of risk analysis in policy debate. Bashor found simple estimates of potential losses added little to contingency planning.pdf. If risk is defined one way. Defining risk is thus an exercise in power" (699). Bashor and others have discovered that mini-max claims are not useful in resolving complex issues. p. October 29th-November 1st. If it is defined another way. Volume 21. [ ] Debating risk calculation is key to making the policy debate process educational Dale Herbeck.org/CAD/2000_berube. most of us agree. As such. Admittedly. none of these suggestions is a perfect solution. is an appreciation of the nature of risk analysis and how it functions in argumentation. to our way of thinking. How many times have educators had contest debaters in a classroom discussion who strung out an extended mini-max argument to the jeers and guffaws of their classmates? They cannot all be wrong. Advocates will still use risk analysis to their advantage. Regardless of their persuasiveness. mini-max arguments are not the exclusive domain of contest debating. 64-69] Outsiders to contest debating have remarked simply that too many policy debate arguments end in all-out nuclear war: consequently. we will be well-armed in our battle with the bogeymen of our age. one will likely get a different ordering of action solutions. "Policies driven by the consideration of low risk probabilities will. p. potentially high-consequence events such as terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction. Still. lead to low investment strategies to prevent a hazard from being realized or to mitigate the hazard's consequences. and judges will still be faced with the difficult task of assigning probabilities and assessing impacts. Accessed 04-05-2008. If we understand this tool. Regrettably. IL). perhaps incorporating qualitative characteristics or other contextual factors. 1992 [Director of the Fulton Debating Society at Boston College. Available Online via ERIC Number ED354559. extended arguments using mini-max reasoning remain powerful determinants of resource allocation. Rehabilitating risk analysis. Slovic advocates a better understanding of all risk analysis since it drives much of our public policy. For example. in his assessment of low-probability. it seems to us.
In the penultimate section. it can be described as resulting from failures of an established analytical framework that excludes legitimate normative issues to which members of the public attach great importance (Hansson. Sven Ove Hansson. Alternatively. A major reason why this is seldom done is the lack of adequate tools for ethical risk analysis. expert assessments based on quantitative risk and risk-benefit analysis have often failed to convince the public. 3. Some general conclusions are drawn in the last section. Vol. we comment on each of these seven questions and on its relevance in risk management. This has often been depicted as failures in the communication between experts and laypersons. intent and justice. In the following section. The Method Lab . 2005a). traditional quantitative analysis of risk needs to be supplemented with a systematic characterization of the ethical aspects of risk. Basingstoke: Jul 2007. It is the purpose of the present contribution to introduce a model for ethical risk analysis. 9. 16 pgs JSTOR] Ethical issues are prominent in many risk-related social conflicts. including issues such as voluntariness. Risk Management. pg. consent. In such conflicts. In order to deal with these issues. we present three examples that show how our model can be used to clarify the nature of a risk management problem. 129. Iss. and identify seven crucial questions that can be used to characterize the ethical aspects of a risk management problem. we present the outline of a three-party model of the ethical aspects of risk.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus [ 29 They Say “Focusing on Risk Calculus Distracts Education” ] Risk management must account for ethical issues to maintain public support Hansson professor in philosophy Royal Institute of Technology 2007 [Hélène Hermansson. In the next section.
the United States no longer faces a serious military challenger or global hegemonic threat. Syria. In economic terms. In 2003.9 trillion vs. security (to provide some perspective.S.9 billion).Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 30 No Nuclear War impacts [ ] No risk of global nuclear war – China and Russia won’t launch full scale attacks due to geography and defense spending Charles Peña a senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. Certainly. $1. but in absolute terms the U.S. military is.S. So China would have to devote one-quarter of its GDP to defense to equal the United States. homeland.S.S. If the Russian and Chinese militaries are not serious threats to the United States. is no longer considered a threat to sweep through the Fulda Gap to occupy Western Europe. and Cuba – are even less of a threat. GDP ($1.S.9 percent vs. even if China modernizes and expands its strategic nuclear force (as many military experts predict it will). the real question is whether such large defense spending is necessary for U. 3.S. Less Security http://www. and vast moats to the east and west. 2006 [February 16.9 billion vs. 3. the GDP of these four countries was $590. Iran.4 trillion). So Russia would have to devote more than 20 percent of its GDP to defense – which would exceed what the Soviet Union spent during the height of the Cold War during the 1980s – to equal the United States.S. so-called rogue states – such as North Korea. More Defense Spending. but instead of being a threat to Europe. Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) was a little more than a tenth of U. the most dominant military force on the planet.7 percent). by far and away. current U. strategic nuclear arsenal is a powerful deterrent against any country with nuclear weapons – even against so-called rogue states if they eventually acquire long-range ballistic missiles. The Method Lab . $55. Even if Russia were to change course and adopt a more hostile position. The answer is "no.S. defense expenditures were seven times that of China's ($404. U.or airlift to be able to project its military power and threaten the U. the United States will retain a credible nuclear deterrent with an overwhelming advantage in warheads. And the vast U. China spent fractionally more of its GDP on defense than the United States (3. GDP. China may not have the wherewithal to compete with and challenge the United States. defense spending is more in real terms than during any of the Reagan years and surpassed only by spending at the end of World War Two in 1945 and 1946 and during the Korean War in 1952).antiwar. Chinese military developments bear watching. And like Russia.3 trillion vs. despite having more main battle tanks than the U.9 trillion). With the demise of the Soviet Union. And although a larger share of Russia’s GDP was for defense expenditures (4. $10. China does not possess the sea.com/pena/?articleid=8546 Unsound fiscal practices aside. and although many see China as the next great threat.S. or less than 5. in absolute terms the United States outspent Russia by more than 6-to-1. Russia comes closest to having the capability to be a military threat to the United States. America is relatively safe from a military invasion. it is not in a position to challenge the United States – either economically or militarily.S.3 billion in 2003 compared to a U. it now has observer status with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and.S. homeland. And the U.5 percent of U." The United States is in a unique geostrategic position. We have friendly neighbors to the north and south. In 2003. and variety of delivery vehicles. GDP was almost eight times more than China's ($10. Moreover. none have any real military capability to threaten or challenge vital American security interests or the U.9 trillion. Army. Though these countries are unfriendly to the United States. Given that no other country in the world has significant global power projection capability.7 percent). GDP of $10.9 percent vs. launchers.
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 31 No Environmental Collapse [ ] Environmental collapse won’t cause war – deterrence and interdependence Daniel Deudney 1999 Asst Prof of Poli Sci at Johns Hopkins. Military capability sufficient to make aggression prohibitively costly has become widely distributed. And fortunately. [Contested Grounds: Security and Conflict in the New Environmental Politics. The vitality of the international trading system and the more general phenomenon of complex interdependence also militate against violent interstate outcomes. the prospects for resource and pollution wars are not as great as often conjured by environmentalists. p213] In summary. Interstate violence seems to be poorly matched as a means to resolve many of the conflicts that might arise from environmental degradation. making even large shifts in the relative power potential of states less likely to cause war. Conclusions The degradation of the natural environment upon which human well-being depends is a problem with far-reaching significance for all human societies. But this problem has little to do with the national-security-from-violence problem that continues to afflict politics. the case for thinking environmental degradation will cause interstate violence is much weaker than commonly thought. Although many conflict scenarios draw analogies from historical experience. The result is a world system with considerable resiliency and enough "rattle room" to weather significant environmental disruption without large-scale violent interstate conflict.com. Harnessing these sentiments for a "war on pollution" is a dangerous and probably self-defeating enterprise. they fail to take into account the important ways in which the contemporary interstate system differs from earlier ones. available at NetLibrary. In part this is because of features of the international system unrelated to environmental issues. Not only is there little in common between the causes and solutions to these two problems. but the nationalist and militarist mindsets closely associated with "national security" thinking directly conflict with the core of the emerging environmentalist worldview.x The Method Lab .
The loss of each single species may bring about a small cascade of other losses.nbu. better understand how to conserve biodiversity while ensuring sustainable livelihoods. This is not my argument.uk/biota/Archive_Biotic/3806. in support of good governance. “Ecological value of biodiversity.until they abruptly collapse. without anything terribly dramatic happening. What concerns me is that we can take an ecosystem (for example. I would be flying in the face of reason (and evidence) to deny that life creates and maintains conditions suitable for life or that life buffers physical parameters. or removing certain phenotypes. perhaps by reducing the populations of the most common species. Develop effective low-cost methods to rehabilitate threatened species and restore degraded ecosystems. a forest) and progressively simplify it by removing species. the ocean being the most glaringly obvious one . the buffering that John talks about means that the forest will maintain some kind of ecological integrity as this reduction in biodiversity continues.” http://www. At that cusp. we will remove one species too many. In that belief. Last. But when the pier does abruptly collapse. And this is my worry about such a functional reason for defending and cherishing biodiversity . Unfortunately we will almost always discover the phase space location of that cusp too late. The Method Lab . to investigate the concerns that they raise.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 32 No Biodiversity Extinction [ ] Species loss won’t cause extinction – it is impossible to identify keystone species Sharman. but by no means least. and those with low resilience. marginal or relict habitats. We probably all know at least one forest .we can go on pulling away the pillars from under the pier for a long time. because the evidence before our eyes is that progressively simplified systems persist .or other ecosystem. 2003 (Martin.ac. what can we do except watch? I feel that nobody should end their contribution to this conference without stating what strategically important research should be done. Understand how to evaluate the minimum area that an ecosystem must cover if it is to persist under probable scenarios of climatic and anthropogenic change. and an ecological catastrophe will follow and the forest (or fertile ocean) will be transformed into something else. but can we say that the diversity itself (as distinct from any of its components) has scientifically demonstrated ecological value? At some point. For a long time.htm) Can we use the ecological value of biodiversity as an argument to encourage the development of policies that seek to protect biodiversity? Probably not. Understand the ecology of the deep ocean and the benthos and its response to drivers of biodiversity change. Develop ways of managing endangered or threatened ecosystems. to do with governance and what reasons we give in support of our belief that we must develop human survival systems that conserve biodiversity. European Commission Research DG DI-4 Biodiversity and Ecosystems. here is my (partial) list of "science for good governance" for this issue: Understand how to define and assess ecosystem quality. I suspect that our disagreement may stem from his perception of biodiversity as 'life' and my perception of biological diversity as 'a characteristic of life'. or reducing biodiversity in some other way. Anyone who tries to warn against this kind of behaviour is discounted as a doomsayer. perhaps.that is going through this slow transformation. nobody could possibly deny that biodiversity has ecological value. But I feel that there is another point here. John Hutcheson believes that "there is a scientifically demonstrated ecological value of biodiversity".
''The long-term prediction is that by the middle of this century we'll have healing (of the layer). Typically. the hole covered 28million square kilometres.is a funnel-shaped region of ozonedepleted air in the stratosphere that occurs in winter. ''The very small hole in 2002 broke up very early.first identified in 1985 -." However. not celebration. Thinning of the protective layer is caused by the presence of gases such as chlorine and bromine. Lexis The international treaty to protect the ozone layer turns 20 this year.'' [ ] Ozone depletion won’t cause extinction – predictions are media hype.7million tonnes of ozone were lost. The treaty came about over legitimate but overstated concerns that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs. the washington times section. the thinning of the ozone layer that occurred throughout the 1980s apparently stopped in the early 1990s. Dr Fraser said.'' The hole -. A 1998 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report said: "Since 1991. roughly three times the size of Australia and twice the size of Antarctica itself. Such is the case with the 1987 Montreal Protocol On Substances That Deplete The Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol). the evidence shows ozone depletion was an exaggerated threat in the first place. the same report noted that the stratospheric concentrations of the offending compounds were still increasing through 1998. ecosystem destruction and others haven't come true. the linear [downward] trend observed during the 1980s has not continued. They serve as ''platforms'' for ozone-depleting chemical reactions caused by CFCs and other compounds. senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. which is controlled by stratospheric dynamics. Lexis THE ozone hole over Antarctica has shrunk by 30 percent. As the treaty parties return to Montreal for their 20th anniversary meeting it should be cause for reflection. The Method Lab . 15-16km above the South Pole. arguing their preventive prescriptions averted disaster. and Dr Fraser said they had been dropping by about 1 per cent a year since then. The Australian 2007 [Leigh Dayton. Ben Lieberman. when winds surrounding the South Pole weaken. and is now the smallest it has been since 2002. Ozone breach at a five-year low. which originate in man-made products such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). the stratosphere. ''But it's hard to tease out the long-term trend. According to atmospheric scientist Paul Fraser of the CSIRO's Marine and Atmospheric Research unit in Melbourne. especially for those who hope to repeat this "success story" in the context of global warming. Last year. shielding it from solar radiation. for which Montreal Protocol proponents congratulate themselves. but rather total column ozone has been almost constant. The ozone layer girdles the planet. largely depending on the temperature of the upper atmosphere.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 33 No Ozone Depletion Extinction [ ] Massive impacts from ozone depletion are denied: Ozone layers vary year to year which means they gain no short-turn impacts AND the ozone layer will begin to heal in the long term. The Montreal Protocol's provisions were tightened in 1990 and again in 1992. from the year-to-year variations.'' he said. But in retrospect. driven by reduction in compounds. ESA scientists estimated that this year 27. According to satellite measurements released yesterday by the European Space Agency. allowing in warmer ozone-rich air. culminating with a CFC ban in most developed nations by 1996. Such ozonedepleting compounds were outlawed in 1987. When the stratosphere is colder than about -78C. But is there really much reason to celebrate? Environmentalists have made many apocalyptic predictions over the last several decades. the ozone hole persists until November or December. shield the Earth from excessive ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB) from the sun. compared with last year's record loss of 40 million tonnes. collectively known as the ozone layer. ''The size of the ozone hole varies from year to year. we've had big ones.7 million square kilometres. The lurid predictions of ozone depletion-induced skin cancer epidemics. the 30 per cent drop is not surprising. Science writer October 5. A17 Sept 19. a then-widely used class of refrigerants) and other compounds were rising to the stratosphere and destroying ozone molecules. So what do we know now? As far as ozone depletion is concerned. These molecules. Since then. the hole covers 24. stratospheric clouds form. too soon to credit the Montreal Protocol. 2007 [Ozone: The hole truth. Virtually none has come to pass. the greens and their political allies proclaim victory. Yet each time.
there is a long period of infectiousness. then the infection will fade away. This analogy reflects a profound misunderstanding of the epidemiology of HIV. Al. Bhopal. Infectious diseases do not grow indefinitely—there must be some natural limit. Journal of Evolution and Technology. Many economic models rely on simplistic assumptions that other parts of the world will follow the trajectory of SubSaharan Africa. Nutrition. when one views an epidemic over time. These types of disasters have occurred many times and our cultural attitudes towards risk have been shaped by trialand-error in managing such hazards. We have not evolved mechanisms. often years. [addressing hiv/aids in east asia and the pacific. This is part of the reason why it is useful to distinguish them from other risks. black plague. 9 March http://www. World War II. draughts. With the exception of a speciesdestroying comet or asteroid impact (an extremely rare occurrence). HIV/AIDS is similar. the reproductive rate begins to fall. but the process is much slower because of the long interval between infection with HIV and the development of AIDS.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 34 No HIV/AIDS Extinction [ ] HIV/AIDS will not lead to extinction – current models are based on false assumptions and proper statistical analysis proves.” http://siteresources. However. as the number of people susceptible to the disease are “used up” by the epidemic. Professor of Philosophy at Oxford.nickbostrom. there were probably no significant existential risks in human history until the mid-twentieth century. The classic case of this type of infection is influenza or SARS.html) Risks in this sixth category are a recent phenomenon.com/existential/risks. Preker 2004 Alexander Human development network. Given the long duration of HIV/AIDS.. smallpox. If no new susceptible groups enter the population. for managing such risks. poisonous foods. In addition.” Vol. either biologically or culturally. As can be seen. The figure on page 72 shows the course of an HIV/AIDS infection in a population. which makes it very different from classical infectious diseases such as influenza. epidemics of influenza. and AIDS. volcano eruptions. it has an initial phase of growth and then it tapers off and reaches a steady state before it eventually disappears. there is continuing growth in new susceptible populations. The Method Lab . They haven’t significantly affected the total amount of human suffering or happiness or determined the long-term fate of our species.org/INTEAPREGTOPHIVAIDS/PublicationsandReports/20282986/Regional_Paper.18 The key to understanding the dynamics of an infectious disease is the reproductive rate (R0) common to all organisms. automobile accidents. Health. earthquakes. World War I. in the initial period of R0 > 1. But tragic as such events are to the people immediately affected.) All socioeconomic models of the impact of HIV/AIDS depend on epidemic logical predictions on the future course of the epidemic. and Population Series . Chernobyl. and certainly none that it was within our power to do something about. To understand this one must develop a theoretical model of the growth of infectious diseases. Our intuitions and coping strategies have been shaped by our long experience with risks such as dangerous animals. in the big picture of things – from the perspective of humankind as a whole – even the worst of these catastrophes are mere ripples on the surface of the great sea of life. making extinction unlikely. hostile individuals or tribes. In fact. A World Bank study et. pdf P71 Human Development Network . the prevalence increases exponentially.worldbank. “Existential risks. [ ] HIV/AIDS and risks like it do not pose a risk of extinction – historically plagues have not threatened species Bostrom 2002 (Nick.
after the ill considered U. 2009) Those attacks demonstrated.walkeronline.000). the likelihood that an individual American would number among the dead would be two hundredths of a percent (or one in 5.000 about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor. But while keeping such potential dangers in mind. Nor is it to suggest that al Qaeda is anything other than a murderous movement. probably with very wide support within the Muslim world. the evidence so far suggests that fears of the omnipotent terrorist reminiscent of those inspired by images of the 20 foottall Japanese after Pearl Harbor or the 20 foottall Communists at various points in the Cold War (particularly after Sputnik) may have been overblown.net/Mueller%20%20Is%20 There%20S till%20A%20Terrorist %20Threat. Even if there were a 9/11 scale attack every three months for the next five years. prof of Political Science at Ohio State. the threat presented within the United States by al Qaeda greatly exaggerated. venture in Iraq is over. And none of this is to deny that more terrorist attacks on the United States are still possible.S. that al Qaeda or at least 19 of its members still possessed some fight. and taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists. Moreover. spying on many.pdf (Accessed at Michigan University on June 24th. inconveniencing most. Although it remains heretical to say so. “Is There Still a Terrorist Threat? ” September/October http://www. of course. by aiding anti-American insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq and inflicting damage on Israel and on American interests worldwide. 2006 [Foreign Affairs. it is worth remembering that the total number of people killed since 9/11 by al Qaeda or al Qaedalike operatives outside of Afghanistan and Iraq is not much higher than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States in a single year. The Method Lab .Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 35 No Terror Attack [ ] Terrorism risk are exaggerated to justify any federal government action John Mueller. The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some. and that the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80. A unilateral American military attack against Iran could cause that country to retaliate. freelance jihadists trained there may seek to continue their operations elsewhere although they are more likely to focus on places such as Chechnya than on the United States.
Editor of Spiked. while the Aum Shinryko attack certainly had tragic consequences. by all accounts.the nightmare notion of silent. The Tamil Tigers’ use of chemicals angered their support base. The Method Lab . the individual had made contact with the liquid. Twelve people were killed. released sarin gas on the Tokyo Underground. It shows up the gap between the reality of terrorism . from a military perspective. He thinks the reasons are complex. of causing mass destruction. No doubt there is some truth in that. he argues that it isn’t only government and media who have ratcheted up fear about WMD. invisible killer poisons being released into our water systems or on to crowded public transport .meaning that the Japanese authorities were nervous about monitoring the group on the grounds that it was a religious outfit . The Tokyo gas attack is seen as the most audacious use of WMD by terrorists to date. over 1. He says that even though Aum Shinryko had ‘extraordinary cover for a long time’ . says Rapoport. always conjuring up worst-case scenarios . According to Rapoport. In this sense. it is often namechecked as an example of what might happen if al-Qaeda types were to use WMD on the London Underground or on the New York Subway.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 36 No Bioterror Attack [ ] Empirically – Bio terrorism has had limited impacts – even the most successful attacks have killed less than a hundred people – media hype drives fears of WMD Brendan O’Neil.in every fatal case. do not cause as much mass destruction as conventional weapons.which over the past three years has largely consisted of scrappy bomb attacks by small nihilistic groups .spikedonline.php/site/article/2263/ Weapons of Minimum Destruction The most effective WMD-attack by a non-state group.) ‘When you think that fewer than 15 people have been killed by known terrorist use of chemical and biological weapons. injuring over 60 soldiers but killing none.because it comes from within. What we could really do with is a heavy dose of reality. which have only rarely been used by terrorists (and not very successfully at that). and which we’re not even certain that today’s terrorists. So why are we so obsessed with WMD? Why do we continue to fret over weapons which. the most striking thing about the Aum Shinryko attack is that no one died from inhaling the sarin gas itself . inflict ‘hundreds of thousands of casualties’.are the perfect metaphor for the West’s own sense of vulnerability. 2004 [Thursday 19 August 2004 http://www. That might explain why so much of the terror discussion. it also showed us the limitations of WMD attacks in terms of causing casualties or destruction. Yet. The Tigers have not used WMD since. from our own nightmares and imaginations. it still did not succeed in its aim of taking hundreds or thousands of casualties. have got access to? Rapoport says that’s a good question .and despite the fact that it had ‘20 members with graduate degrees in science. 40 of whom were seriously injured. was carried out by the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka in 1990. and contrast that to the thousands who were killed on 9/11 and in conventional bombings in Madrid or Bali or Istanbul. who says that the individuals killed by Aum Shinryko are the only people to have lost their lives as a result of a WMD attack by a terrorist group over the past 25 years. too . especially when the groups using them must move around quickly. (There were also five deaths as a result of anthrax attacks post-9/11. chemical and biological weapons . as Rapoport points out.confirming Rapoport’s view that one problem with using unpredictable and unwieldy chemical and biological weapons over conventional weapons is that the cost can be as great ‘to the attacker as to the attacked’.com/index. ‘as all terrorists must do’.and the fear of terrorism as something that might bring down civilisation as we know it. when some of the chlorine drifted back into Tamil territory . rather than from without.but a difficult one to answer. but that ‘economic interests’ have. particularly in relation to WMD.000 were hospitalised. but Parachini doesn’t include those because the individual responsible and the motivation for those attacks remain unknown.those in business. It suggests that our concern about terrorism is not entirely shaped by the real threat posed by terrorism. They used chlorine gas against Sri Lankan soldiers guarding a fort. For Rapoport this shows that such weapons are far from easy to use. significant laboratories and assets of over a billion dollars’. in the words of President Bush. it’s quite remarkable that we are so obsessed with WMD’. specifically al-Qaeda. The most infamous use of WMD by terrorists was in March 1995. when 10 members of Aum Shinryko. The cult members started the attack by puncturing the bags with umbrellas. government and research institutions who stand to make financial gain from public concern about WMD and from public demands for more protective measures against such weapons. The homemade gas was placed in plastic bags wrapped in newspapers. the strange Japanese religious cult. is anticipatory and speculative. But the disparity between the facts about WMD and our fears of WMD also reveals something more about today’s terror-obsession. but by a broader sense of fear and insecurity at home. or. He cites Parachini again.
’ David C Rapoport. 2004 [Thursday 19 August 2004 http://www. professor of political science at University of California. In 2002. The British government has spent £28million on stockpiling millions of smallpox vaccines. he says. what we refer to as “weapons of mass destruction” are actually not very destructive. British nurses became the first in the world to get training in how to deal with the victims of bioterrorism (3). Any claim to the contrary is just fear mongering. The New Face of Terrorism: Threats From Weapons of Mass Destruction and The Survival Guide: What to Do in a Biological. would ‘kill hundreds of thousands. Chemical or Nuclear Emergency speculate over what kind of horrors WMD might wreak. American and British leaders have issued dire warnings about terrorists getting hold of WMD and causing mass murder and mayhem. Brendan O’Neil. Los Angeles and editor of the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence.com/index. biological or radiological attack’ (‘Move away from the immediate source of danger’. without hesitation and without mercy’ (1). it usefully advised). even though there’s no evidence that terrorists have got access to smallpox. we’d see that our fears about WMD are misplaced’. Indeed. ‘If we stopped speculating about things that might happen in the future and looked instead at what has happened in the past. which was eradicated as a natural disease in the 1970s and now exists only in two high-security labs in America and Russia (2). The UK Home Office’s 22-page pamphlet on how to survive a terror attack.spikedonline. meanwhile. The Method Lab . TV docudramas. terror groups or dispersed in industrial accidents.php/site/article/2263/ Weapons of Minimum Destruction] ‘Believe it or not. ‘if they ever gained weapons of mass destruction’. they tend to be far less destructive than conventional weapons.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 37 No Bioterror Attack [ ] Biological and chemical weapons have historically caused far less damage then conventional weapons – these are weapons of minimal destruction. President George W Bush has spoken of terrorists who. explore how Britain might cope with a smallpox assault and what would happen if London were ‘dirty nuked’ (4). whether used by states. He found something surprising . Spine-chilling books such as Plague Wars: A True Story of Biological Warfare. has examined what he calls ‘easily available evidence’ relating to the historic use of chemical and biological weapons. included tips on what to do in the event of a ‘chemical. Post-9/11. Editor of Spiked.such weapons do not cause mass destruction. Yet such fears remain widespread. published last month.
edu/cis/oped _posen_3_2_06. should it turn to the production of weapons. [ ] Iranian prolif won’t cause regional arms races – Israel is already nuclear and Egypt depends on US Aid Barry Posen. An Iranian nuclear arsenal.edu/cis/oped _posen_3_2_06. policymakers fear.html MIT Center for International Studies Op-Eds The intense concern about Iran's nuclear energy program reflects the judgment that. the United States might consider a preemptive nuclear strike. but they are risks that a nuclear Iran must take into account. Egypt might also find it diplomatically difficult to forswear acquiring nuclear weapons. or should be. while it's seldom a positive thing when a new nuclear power emerges. only Israel. if the Iranians so much as appeared to be readying their nuclear forces for use.mit. the fear is that Iran could rely on a diffuse threat of nuclear escalation to deter others from attacking it. But Cairo depends on foreign assistance. even in response to Iranian belligerence. Iran's military is large. there is reason to believe that we could readily manage a nuclear Iran. Professor of Political Science at the MIT 2006 [will become director of the MIT Security Studies Program in July We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran http://web. Today the Iranian military could impose considerable costs on an American invasion or occupation force within Iran. undertaking in any case. Judging from cold war history. But while it's possible that Iranian leaders would think this way. Professor of Political Science at the MIT 2006 [will become director of the MIT Security Studies Program in July We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran http://web. with domestic reforms and improvements in their police and intelligence operations -measures these states are. The Method Lab .mit. which would make Egypt vulnerable to the enormous international pressure it would most likely face to refrain from joining an arms race. an Iran with nuclear arms would gravely endanger the United States and the world. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons. Iranian weapons might coax the Israelis to go public with their arsenal and to draw up plans for the use of such weapons in the event of an Iranian military threat. could touch off a regional arms race while emboldening Tehran to under take aggressive. Indeed. And if Israel disclosed its nuclear status. Egypt. As for aggression.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 38 No Iran Impacts [ ] Iranian prolif won’t cause middle east war – Iran would be constrained by US power Barry Posen. even reckless. but it is improbable. including subversion or outright conventional aggression. Israel might adopt a similar doctrine in the face of an Iranian nuclear arsenal. actions. These are not developments to be wished for. nor are they beyond the capacity of the United States and its allies to defuse. among its neighbors. But the Gulf states can counter Iranian subversion. but its conventional weapons are obsolete. it's equally possible that they would be more cautious. A Middle Eastern arms race is a frightening thought. Saudi Arabia and Turkey could conceivably muster the resources to follow suit. Israel is already a nuclear power. Nor are such calculations all that should counsel caution. but only with vast and extraordinarily expensive improvements could it defeat the American military if it were sent to defend the Gulf states from Iranian aggression. But these outcomes are not inevitable. regardless of Iran's nuclear status.html MIT Center for International Studies Op-Eds The final concern is that a nuclear Iran would simply feel less constrained from other kinds of adventurism. should it provoke a crisis or war. Tehran could not rule out the possibility that others with more and better nuclear weapons would strike Iran first.
Almost as many members of the regime have sided with Mousavi as have backed Ahmadinejad. a majority of Iranians would probably have voted for the Shah had there been elections. However. Many of its members had homes and investments abroad and thus were not forced to fight with their backs to the wall. they all rally to his side. spanning more than 2.gulfnews. 2009 [Civil war unlikely in Iran By Amir Taheri. in the sixth century AD and in 1911. To start with.com/opinion/columns/region/ 10325444. They are intellectuals. Now. This time. There is yet another difference. there are more differences between the events of 1979 and those of today than there are similarities. I only hope that the side that realises it is losing does not go into denial. 2009. however. but rather bows out without provoking a prolonged and bloody conflict.html However. The 'moral references' of Iranian society are no longer clerics. The Method Lab . none of the key figures of the regime switched sides. This time the clergy is being pushed into the background. The reason for this is that as a power struggle develops. academics. the people looked to the Shiite clergy for leadership. the regime may well lose a free and fair election. few of them were prepared to fight for him in the streets. Another difference is that in 1979 the ruling elite had little stomach for a fight. Special to Gulf News Published: June 23. Iran's long history. Call it opportunism if you like.500 years. The perception that the Shah was weak and unwilling to hit back played a crucial role in disheartening his supporters and encouraging his opponents. the ruling elite is split down the middle. Even after the Shah had left the country. That perception was one reason so many of the Shah's closest aides simply fled the country at the first opportunity. lawyers and leaders of independent trade unions.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 39 No Iran Impacts [ ] There will not be a civil war in Iran – events just aren't adding up to it. In 1979. contains only three events that could be described as civil wars: in the fifth century BC. the overwhelming majority of the ruling elite has no fallback position. however. but this is a part of the template of Iranian politics. Iranian writer based in Europe. Thousands of them just packed up and left. Today. Is Iran heading for a civil war? My answer is a cautious no. Amir Taheri. 22:56 http://archive. the ruling establishment under the Shah remained reasonably united until the very end. but is still capable of fielding large numbers of supporters who are ready to kill and die for it. In 1979. Iranians are adept at distinguishing which side is going to win. Once they have identified the winner. No one is left on the other side to provoke a civil war.
Existential disasters have major adverse consequences for the course of human civilization for all time to come. provided they are transitory (though see the section on “Shrieks” below). At any given time we must use our best current subjective estimate of what the objective risk factors are. But tragic as such events are to the people immediately affected. terminal risks. and certainly none that it was within our power to do something about. even if they encompass the whole global community. it qualifies as an existential risk that was present at the time. it suffices that there is some subjective probability of an adverse outcome. World War II. in the big picture of things – from the perspective of humankind as a whole – even the worst of these catastrophes are mere ripples on the surface of the great sea of life. and possibly stifling cultural or religious eras such as the “dark ages”. World War I. volcano eruptions. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. epidemics of influenza. First version: 2001 March. earthquakes. For there to be a risk. even if they are horrible Nick Bostrom.) I shall use the following definition of existential risks: Existential risk – One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential. hostile individuals or tribes. At the time. either biologically or culturally. The Method Lab . moderate global warming. This is the category of global. Although we now know that such an outcome was physically impossible. Existential risks are distinct from global endurable risks.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 40 Only Nuclear Impacts are Existential [ ] The only impacts discussed that are absolute threats of extinction are nuclear impacts the rest are endurable. 2 The unique challenge of existential risks Risks in this sixth category are a recent phenomenon. We have not evolved mechanisms. Bhopal. there was some concern that the explosion might start a runaway chain-reaction by “igniting” the atmosphere. even if it later turns out that objectively there was no chance of something bad happening. (On the other hand. draughts. These types of disasters have occurred many times and our cultural attitudes towards risk have been shaped by trial-and-error in managing such hazards. This is part of the reason why it is useful to distinguish them from other risks. The first manmade existential risk was the inaugural detonation of an atomic bomb. black plague. With the exception of a species-destroying comet or asteroid impact (an extremely rare occurrence). and AIDS. smallpox. the one marked with an X. If we don’t know whether something is objectively risky or not.2 Existential risks In this paper we shall discuss risks of the sixth category. Vol. A world war fought with conventional weapons or a Nazi-style Reich lasting for a decade would be extremely horrible events even though they would fall under the rubric of endurable global risks since humanity could eventually recover. Chernobyl. I shall call these existential risks. The subjective sense is of course what we must base our decisions on. An existential risk is one where humankind as a whole is imperiled. for managing such risks. Our intuitions and coping strategies have been shaped by our long experience with risks such as dangerous animals. March 2002. global economic recessions (even major ones). then it is risky in the subjective sense. poisonous foods. 9. given the knowledge and understanding available. Examples of the latter kind include: threats to the biodiversity of Earth’s ecosphere. there were probably no significant existential risks in human history until the mid-twentieth century. automobile accidents. they could be a local terminal risk for many individuals and for persecuted ethnic groups. 2001 prof of Philosophy. To say that a particular global risk is endurable is evidently not to say that it is acceptable or not very serious. They haven’t significantly affected the total amount of human suffering or happiness or determined the long-term fate of our species. JStor 1.
Such enormous intellectual superiority may well give it correspondingly great power. [ ] Bostrum also says that we cannot discount the risk of Skynet. Nick Bostrom. March 2002. 9. for example. A successful uploading process would preserve the original mind’s memories. First version: 2001 March. The basic idea behind this so-called “Simulation argument” is that vast amounts of computing power may become available in the future (see e. The posthuman world may then be a reflection of one particular egoistical upload’s preferences (which in a worst case scenario would be worse than worthless). First version: 2001 March. A decision to terminate our simulation may be prompted by our actions or by exogenous factors. and so on. and that it could be used. by running it faster. we must seek to base these evaluations on reasons rather than untutored intuition. Vol. adding additional computational resources. among other things. 2001 prof of Philosophy.29]). we suffer the risk that the simulation may be shut down at any time. [28. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. Until a refutation appears of the argument presented in . and consciousness. This end is a shriek. it would intellectually dishonest to neglect to mention simulation-shutdown as a potential extinction mode. the result can be that almost all minds like ours are simulated minds. Such a world may well be a realization of only a tiny part of what would have been possible and desirable. While to some it may seem frivolous to list such a radical or “philosophical” hypothesis next the concrete threat of nuclear holocaust.3 We’re living in a simulation and it gets shut down A case can be made that the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation should be given a significant probability . and the smarter successor version is in turn even better at designing an improved version of itself. If the transcending upload is bent on preventing others from getting the opportunity to upload.54]. it could result in one upload reaching superhuman levels of intelligence while everybody else remains at a roughly human level. It could rapidly invent new technologies or perfect Take-over by a transcending upload. to run large numbers of fine-grained simulations of past human civilizations.g. 9. Uploading a mind will make it much easier to enhance its intelligence. JStor 4. The Method Lab . Suppose uploads come before human-level artificial intelligence. One could imagine that enhancing an upload beyond a certain point will result in a positive feedback loop. or streamlining its architecture. JStor An upload is a mind that has been transferred from a biological brain to a computer that emulates the computational processes that took place in the original biological neural network [19. 2001 prof of Philosophy. And if we are. nanotechnological designs. it might do so. Under some not-too-implausible assumptions.53. and that we should therefore assign a significant probability to being such computer-emulated minds rather than the (subjectively indistinguishable) minds of originally evolved creatures. skills.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 41 Bostrom Indicts [ ] Bostrum is a lunatic – he says that we cannot dismiss the possibility that we are living in the Matrix – the credibility of All of his claims are suspect. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. Vol.33. where the enhanced upload is able to figure out ways of making itself even smarter. values. March 2002. Nick Bostrom. If this runaway process is sudden.
schole. For the moment. philosopher. or phantasm. structures not only the army. Unlike the other wars. finally. is constructed by the fable. paideia. But who can fail to recognize the massive "reality" of nuclear weaponry and of the terrifying forces of destruction that are being stockpiled and capitalized everywhere. the presence of this present in and through that fabulous textuality. it did not set off a nuclear war. then. You will say. what might prove that a European in the period following the war of 1870 might not have been more terrified by the "technological" image of the bombings and exterminations of the Second World War (even supposing he had been able to form such an image) than we are by the image we can construct for ourselves of a nuclear war? The logic of this argument is not devoid of value. but an invention also because it does not exist and especially because. a rhetorical figure. even a fabulous specularization. if you prefer. as a fantasy. or. The explosion of American bombs in 1945 ended a "classical. At least today apparently. "No Apocalypse." conventional war. remains to be invented.indeed. everything that is named by the old words culture. it is a non-event. a pure invention: in the sense in which it is said that a myth. Summer.1 http://www. rather. through technoscience.pdf Third reason. 1984 (Jacques. and this would perhaps be the imperative of a nuclear criticism. only where it is talked about. perhaps: but it is not the first time. The growing multiplication of the discourse. which. an event whose advent remains an invention by men (in all the senses of the word "invention") or which. the very occurrence of nuclear war. a fiction. Who can swear that our unconscious is not expecting this? dreaming of it. the other wars. through all the techno-scientific inventiveness that it motivates. desiring it? You will perhaps find it shocking to find the nuclear issue reduced to a fable. It may also be called a speculation. But the phenomenon is fabulously textual also to the extent that. today. The breaking of the mirror would be. diplomacy. But then I haven't said simply that.edu/~pburgey/XIDS/NoApocalypseDerrida. The terrifying reality of the nuclear conflict can only be the signified referent. this speed race in search of speed. structures of language. more than any weaponry in the past. on the basis of an event that has never happened (except in fantasy. Nuclear Criticism. as a hypothesis. at whatever point it should come into existence. For the "reality" of the nuclear age and the fable of nuclear war are perhaps distinct. this senseless capitalization of sophisticated weaponry. a nuclear war has not taken place: one can only talk and write about it. I have recalled that a nuclear war is for the time being a fable. civilization. conditions every discourse and all strategies. Some might call it a fable. for the moment. including non-vocalizable language. one may say that a nonlocalizable nuclear war has not occurred. And as to the fright of imaginary anticipation. And that sets us to thinking about today. so long as they hadn't taken place. it has existence only through what is said of it. Diacritics. itself. our day. however. but they are not two separate things. to be sure. upon structures of information and communication. we may consider ourselves. that are coming to constitute the very movement of capitalization. But it loses its value in the face of the hypothesis of a total nuclear war. a phantasm. In our techno-scientifico-militaro-diplomatic incompetence. the anticipatory assimilation of that unanticipatable entirely-other. something one can only talk about. through an act of language. it would be a grand premiere appearance. An invention because it depends upon new technical mechanisms. an image. Nuclear weaponry depends. a fantasy. are inventions. structures of codes and graphic decoding. as competent as others to deal with a phenomenon whose essential feature is that of being fabulously textual. this crazy precipitation which. through and through. but the whole of the human socius today.westga. and that is not nothing at all). The Method Lab ." let's say the encompassing institution of the nuclear age. one must also be careful to interpret critically this critical or diacritical distinction. Not Now (Full Speed Ahead. nuclear war has no precedent." Vol 14. PS. One has to distinguish between this "reality" of the nuclear age and the fiction of war. were only talked about and written about.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 42 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad [ ] Nuclear war is only textual – it has never occurred and cannot be described – it can only be addressed as a discursive event. Seven Missives). politics.on this subject may constitute a process of fearful domestication. especially if one is thinking about a limited and "clean" nuclear war. a utopia. which have all been preceded by wars of more or less the same type in human memory (and gunpowder did not mark a radical break in this respect). But. Derrida.." an event of which one can only speak. It is the war (in other words the fable) that triggers this fabulous war effort. it seems. "Reality. No 2. that is. too. It has never occurred. of the literature . Seven Missiles. never the real referent (present or past) of a discourse or a text. Better than ever and more than ever.
or. of a final collision or collusion. domesticate the terror. Let us consider the form of the question itself: is the war of (over. The historian's critical vigilance can always help us verify that repetitiveness. and it. and repetitions at every turn can make us look like suicidal sleepwalkers. what weapons of irony? The "nuclear age" makes for a certain type of colloquium.e. a doctrine or a dogmatic weapon. as a lucid historian. its rhythm of speech." That's the way one always dies. don't go too fast. no radically new predicate in the situation known as "the nuclear age. blind and deaf alongside the unheardof. strategic arrangements. One may still die after having spent one's life recognizing. etc. and thus its arguments and its armaments. in all its aspects.. The Method Lab . "No Apocalypse.westga.pdf Reason number one. to circumvent (with the help of circumlocutions: turns of phrase. the temporalities called subjective and objective. Seven Missiles. But this dissuasion and deceleration I am urging carry their own risks: the critical zeal that leads us to recognize precedents." 1 am also wondering at what speed we have to deal with these aporias: with what rhetoric. what ruses of potentialization and of ellipsis. PS. therefore. it could make us stand blind and deaf alongside that which cuts through the assimilating resemblance of discourses (for example of the apocalyptic or bimillenarist type). phenomenological and intra-worldly. and so on. as we say in French. what strategy of implicit connection. it allows us to confront our predicament starting from the limit constituted by the absolute acceleration in which the uniqueness of an ultimate event. There is perhaps no invention. No 2. Nuclear Criticism. No 2. 1984 (Jacques. then? Given our inability to provide a good answer for that question. Seven Missives). dissuade it from rushing to a conclusion on the subject of speed itself. Summer. continuities. that lucidity of memory must always shed their light on "nuclear criticism. for) speed (with all that it entails) an irreducibly new phenomenon. in history itself. What is the right speed. an invention linked to a set of inventions of the so-called nuclear age.edu/~pburgey/XIDS/NoApocalypse Derrida .westga." Of all the dimensions of such an "age" we may always say one thing: it is neither the first time nor the last. Not Now (Full Speed Ahead. diffusion and storage. on the "brink. Seven Missives).blind and deaf. the nuclear question.edu/~pburgey/XIDS/NoApocalypse Derrida. a precipitous assertion. through the analogy of techno-military situations." their use of chance and risk factors. for any problematics of the "nuclear criticism" type.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 43 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad [ ] Focusing on catastrophic risk assessment dehumanizes decisionmaking Derrida. this critical zeal." Vol 14. allegorize. the need to move both slowly and quickly). as a hasty conclusion. PS. with all their wagers. alongside what would be absolutely unique. its modes of persuasion or intimidation." must oblige it to decelerate. their mimetic resource to upping the ante. to metaphorize.1 http://www. Diacritics. The critical slowdown may thus be as critical as the critical acceleration. Naturally. with its particular technology of information. wishing to address these questions to the participants of a colloquium on "nuclear criticism. then. But 1 was determined to begin with it. their last-resort calculations. [ ] Nuclear rhetoric is a persuasion of intimidation. the keystone or. to what extent all that was not new. 1984 (Jacques. Not Now (Full Speed Ahead. the undeviating precipitation toward a remainderless cataclysm. tropes and strophes) the inescapable catastrophe. philosopher. if you will. would end up being merged into one another. an opinion-based argument.. we at least have to recognize gratefully that the nuclear age allows us to think through this aporia of speed (i. Summer. would seek in the stockpile of history (in short. "invent gunpowder. I don't have time to demonstrate this.1 ttp://www. l wanted to begin as quickly as possible with a warning in the form of a dissuasion: watch out." Vol 14. which in this case would have this blinding search as its function) the wherewithal to neutralize invention.pdf Reason number two. authentic and inauthentic. a belief. and the death of what is still now and then called humanity might well not escape the rule. Nuclear Criticism. and that historian's patience. moreover. philosopher. Seven Missiles. I am offering it. Derrida. telling oneself that the inventors of the nuclear age or of nuclear criticism did not invent the wheel. Diacritics. or is it rather the brutal acceleration of a movement that has always already been at work? This form of the question perhaps constitutes the most indispensable formal matrix. "No Apocalypse. But. its demonstration procedures. to translate the unknown into a known.
All of them. acting. heterogeneous competencies.1 http://www. the deputies of performance or of the performative. Seven Missives). literature. promising. decision itself. foreign to any exercise of power. whatever precautions may be taken in this area. PS. very few. So we are not experts in strategy. to concern ourselves seriously with the nuclear issue. entrusted as in a dice game to so few hands: the military men are also scientists.pdf Second reason. Such knowledge is neither coherent nor totalizable.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 44 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad [ ] Techno-scientific predictions of nuclear catastrophes fail – they rely on a model of discourse that privileges expertise over probability Derrida." Vol 14. there is a multiplicity of dissociated. those who are empowered to make decisions. are abandoning us like the remainder of that subtraction . languages. or in the techno-science known as nuclear science. history. improvising procedures and giving orders where no model . inaugurating. so undecidable. How. philosopher. simulating.the limit case in which the limit itself is suspended. Now I shall venture to say that in spite of all appearances this specialty is what entitles us. between those whose competence is technoscientific (those who invent in the sense of unveiling or of "constative" discovery as well as in the sense of production of new technical or "performing" mechanisms) and those whose competence is politicomilitary. this responsibility that we would thus have been neglecting until now. we are certain that. are we to get speech to circulate not only among the self-styled competent parties and those who are alleged to be incompetent.we shall talk about this later on-can help them at all. knowing.first. Today it is on the basis of that situation . are in the position of inventing. but among the competent parties themselves. And by the same token. as it is between the good and evil of all nuclear technology. in the face of the nuclear issue. directs us to concern ourselves with the nuclear issue . in diplomacy. between the invention that finds what was already there and the one that produces new mechanisms or new spaces. given that the stakes of the nuclear question are those of humanity. the frontier is more undecidable than ever.edu/~pburgey/XIDS/NoApocalypseDerrida. Among the acts of observing. No 2. they have never been so terribly accumulated. For we are more than just suspicious. we have to reinvent invention or conceive of another "pragmatics. the limits have never been so precarious. on the other hand and from another point of view. and doubly so. We are specialists in discourse and in texts.westga. and so on. and choice are being subtracted from us. Seven Missiles. of the humanities. Nuclear Criticism. this entitlement. giving orders. Summer." The Method Lab . concentrated. the social sciences. Not Now (Full Speed Ahead. in which therefore the krinein. inasmuch as we are representatives of humanity and of the incompetent humanities which have to think through as rigorously as possible the problem of competence. In the undecidable and at the moment of a decision that has no common ground with any other. 1984 (Jacques. in short all that which in the Kantian university was situated in the inferior class of the philosophy school. all sorts of texts. in this area in particular. crisis. that is. and they find themselves inevitably in the position of participating in the final decision.it is on the basis of that situation that we have to re-think the relations between knowing and acting. if we have not done so before. revealing. "No Apocalypse. Moreover. If on the one hand it is apparently the first time that these competencies are so dangerously and effectively dissociated. philology. between constative speech acts and performative speech acts. Diacritics. we are oriented rather toward what is called not humanity but the humanities.
First reason. and rhetoric). the genre or rhetorical form of tiny atomic nuclei (in the process of fission or division in an uninterruptable chain) which I shall arrange or rather which I shall project toward you. but it involves not only persuading someone to think or believe this or that. we may consider ourselves competent. very rapidly." Vol 14.edu/~pburgey/XIDS/NoApocalypseDerrida. philosopher. Seven Missives).pdf We can therefore consider ourselves competent because the sophistication of the nuclear missile. more unbridgeable than ever for ordinary mortals.1 http://www. Greek style. at least since the Trojan War. overtaking or-as we say in French. No 2. for my speech act. speed was only a beginning for my speech. is already degrading our world in its totality. retrospectively. in three points. as socialization and de-socialization. this allows us to think today. This will be my little strategic and capitalistic calculation. and a speed race between them. as you know.edu/~pburgey/XIDS/NoApocalypseDerrida. without being too tedious and as quickly as possible. But of course. Diacritics. Summer. 1984 (Jacques. Seemed. I am unilaterally disarming. The worldwide organization of the human socius today hangs by the thread of nuclear rhetoric. in other words." Vol 14. I am putting my cards on the table. inopportune or wrong to decide to do something. No! The Method Lab . Seven Missiles. PS. of sociality itself) allow us to think the essence of knowledge and techne itself. one of the two axes of what has been called rhetoric since classical times. I said. Is it not apparently the first time that that dissociation. for want of timetime for preparation and time for the speech act-I shall not make a real "speech. The anticipation of nuclear war (dreaded as the fantasy. my question on the subject of speed. as if we were saying "all this horror is nothing but rhetoric. according to some." as we say in French. Having raised. doubler. That leads to the very real possibility of the destruction of society. Derrida. or deterrence. Diacritics. according to others. or my first nuclear aphorism: in the beginning there will have been speed. To dissuade is certainly a form of persuasion. This reexamination allows us to approach nuclear weapons rationally. I am announcing that. for the overall official logic of nuclear politics. as you have already observed. To recall this is not to paint with verbose vanity the horror of the nuclear catastrophe which. but persuading someone that something must not be done. doubling.westga. and even of sophistry. 1984 (Jacques. as many things as possible. the power and the essence of rhetoric.pdf Reason number three. or phantasm. Dissuasion. the division and the dislocation of the socius. Nuclear Criticism. has put in the balance the fate of what is still now and then called humanity as a whole. like tiny inoffensive missiles: in a discontinuous.or capitalism . more or less haphazard fashion. at the very moment when your president is even thinking about waging war beyond the earth? Doesn't that dissociation (which is dissociation itself. with rhetoric (this is true for the Greek conception of what we are committed here to naming. And for the reason I have just stated very quickly: because of speed. The art of persuasion is. Not Now (Full Speed Ahead. I shall have taken more time than all my partners. [ ] Their rhetoric causes dissociation – shattering – of our perception of reality.always has the structure of a certain potentialization of speed. potentially. "No Apocalypse.in its rhetorical condition. I am thus choosing." Dissuasion is a negative mode or effect of persuasion. Indeed: nowhere has the dissociation between the place where competence is exercised and the place where the stakes are located ever seemed more rigorous. Seven Missiles. Derrida. you will say. At the beginning was the word. or even of the earth as a whole. or my first missive. PS. more dangerous. No 2. strategy can never do without a sophistry of belief and the rhetorical simulation of a text. which is always taking on speed. Seven Missives). as the constitution and the deconstruction of the socius? de vitesse.westga.1 http://www. prendre At the beginning-faster than the word or the act-there will have been speed." On the contrary. This has been. sophistry. We dissuade when we persuade some-one that it is dangerous. it is not to say of this absolute pharmakan that it is woven with words. passing-both the act and the speech. means "persuasion. at the beginning was the act. Nuclear Criticism. Not Now (Full Speed Ahead. which has always been connected." By which means. Summer. of a remainderless destruction) installs humanity-and through all sorts of relays even defines the essence of modern humanity. The rhetoric of dissuasion is a performative apparatus that has other performatives as its intended output. "No Apocalypse. This is immediately readable in the fact that we use the term "strategy of deterrence" or "strategy of dissuasion. in order to say.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 45 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad [ ] Nuclear deterrence is a rhetorical act – it can only be viewed as persuasion when made as a threat. Capitalization. today. my first missile. or such a feat. or improving it by the same token. more catastrophic. philosopher.
transforming the life left us into survival. every confrontation contract in proportion to this blackmail that interrupts. Arguments of global nuclear war only serve to further entrench the powers of the state and to excuse any action that the presenter deems necessary. psychology. this is the total universe of the norm-the Law no longer exists. Deterrence precludes war-the archaic violence of expanding systems. environment-nothing can be left to contingencies. No longer can any revolt. Nuclear suspension only serves to seal the trivialized system of deterrence that is at the heart of the media. neutralizes. The risk of nuclear annihilation only serves as a pretext. 32-35. of the launching of satellites if not the institution of a model of universal gravitation. and political desert. by zero-sum signs like those that regulate the "strategy of games" (but the true equation is elsewhere. This is why the space program was so easily able to replace it in the 1960s (Kennedy/Khrushchev). everywhere where the norm replaces the old arsenal of laws and violence (including war). Pacification does not distinguish between the civil and the military: every. and the unknown is precisely that variable of simulation which makes of the atomic arsenal itself a hyperreal form. like the Trojan War. ultimately. for installing a universal security system. it is deterrence that gives them leukemia. is the function of the space program. of satellization of which the lunar module is the perfect embryo? Programmed microcosm. The apotheosis of simulation: the nuclear. or to develop concurrently as a form of "peaceful coexistence. calculation.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 46 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad [ ] There is no risk of nuclear annihilation – the claim is preposterous. the gravity of their exercise and the discourse of their "strategy" are at stake). political commentator. any story be deployed according to its own logic because it risks annihilation. it is the operational immanence of every detail that is law. No strategy is possible any longer. The whole originality of the situation lies in the improbability of destruction. implosive violence of metastable systems or systems in involution. rather. any more than floating capital has a real referent of production) that circulates in nuclear orbit suffices to control all the violence and potential conflicts around the world. And this deterrence comes from that fact that even the real atomic clash is precluded-precluded like the eventuality of the real in a system of signs. Atomic war. when one still confused the nuclear apparatus with conventional war) but. The same goes for peaceful nuclear power stations. Deterrence is not a strategy. However. and escalation is only a puerile game given over to the military. a simulacrum that dominates everything and reduces all "ground-level" events to being nothing but ephemeral scenarios. The political stake is dead. A universe purged of all threat of meaning. where nothing can be left to chance. of anything that would be an event in the general system and upset its balance. A gigantic involution that makes every conflict. at the much greater probability of any real event. Jean Baudrillard. it is the system of deterrence that grows. freezes them all. the balance of terror is never anything but the spectacular slope of a system of deterrence that has insinuated itself from the inside into all the cracks of daily life. Thus the money of destruction (without any reference to real destruction. The whole world pretends to believe in the reality of this threat (this is understandable on the part of the military. The balance of terror is the terror of balance. The "space race" played exactly the same role as nuclear escalation. 1981 in “Simulacra and Simulation” p." Because what. and thanks to Damocles' nuclear sword. it circulates and is exchanged between nuclear protagonists exactly as is international capital in the orbital zone of monetary speculation whose fluctuations suffice to control all global exchanges. and photographer. sociologist. Postmodernism and post-structuralism. social. philosopher. a universal lockup and control system whose deterrent effect is not at all aimed at an atomic clash (which was never in question. The most insignificant of our behaviors is regulated by neutralized. in a state of asepsis and The Method Lab . There is no longer a subject of deterrence. everywhere the notion of security becomes omnipotent. only simulacra of conflicts and carefully circumscribed stakes remain. And the progressive satellization of the whole planet through this hypermodel of security. into a stake without stakes not even into a life insurance policy: into a policy that already has no value). except without a doubt in the very initial stages of the cold war." threat. of the conquest of the moon. Deterrence itself is the neutral. physiology. of the violence without consequences that reigns throughout the world. equivalent signs. and around it grows the historical. nor an adversary nor a strategy-it is a planetary structure of the annihilation of stakes. every finality. French cultural theorist. What is hatched in the shadow of this mechanism with the pretext of a maximal. will not take place. is the perfection of the best system of control that has ever existed. indifferent. It is not the direct threat of atomic destruction that paralyzes our lives. energy. but it is precisely at this level that there are no strategic stakes. of the aleatory apparatus of all the choices that are made for us. through the sophistication of weapons (a sophistication that surpasses any possible objective to such an extent that it is itself a symptom of nullity).where where irreversible apparatuses of control are elaborated. Trajectory. "objective.
but without fear or drive. Because if the law. with its aura of transgression. the fulfillment of an earlier dream). Now. doomed to the descriptive transparency of mechanisms of information. but which for the moment is translated by an inverse. rupture. or complexity in a sociality illuminated by the norm. irreversible process: the generalized deterrence of chance. Here as well. fascinates. Their truth is to be the models of simulation. but which has now entered its accelerated phase. The vertigo of a world without flaws. the model vectors of a system of planetary control (where even the super. of maximum security and deterrence that today controls the spread of the social. Just watching it produces vertigo. nothing will be left to chance. rather. which began centuries ago. of transversality. of contradiction. we are dumb-founded by the perfection of the programming and the technical manipulation. and makes every imaginary involute. if order. toward a limit that one believed would be explosive (revolution). moreover this is the essence of socialization. The exaltation of the crowds was not a response to the event of landing on the moon or of sending a man into space (this would be. it is the same model of programmatic infallibility. There lies the true nuclear fallout: the meticulous operation of technology serves as a model for the meticulous operation of the social.powers of this scenario are not free-the whole world is satellized). by the immanent wonder of the programmed un.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 47 Extensions – Nuclear Threat Rhetoric Bad weightlessness-it is this very perfection that is fascinating. One no longer fantasizes about the minutiae of a program. the spatial and nuclear models do not have their own ends: neither the discovery of the moon. stupefies. of accident. the norm fixes. still taps a perverse imaginary. In fact. rather. of finality. with its aura of violence. which unites with the model of death. Fascination with the maximal norm and the mastery of probability. implosive. nor military and strategic superiority. The Method Lab .folding of events. Vertigo of the model.
Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 48 They Say “Ignore Low Probability” [ ] It is impossible to set a threshold for “too low” probability Berube. “Debunking mini-max reasoning: the limits of extended causal chains in contest debating” http://www. . regardless of the odds. The likeliness a uniqueness response is absolute is very low. University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science at University of Pittsburgh. or probability. For example. the Y-risking hazard is simply unacceptable. yet the critics round down and ignore the leadership disadvantage entirely. Nor would he ever risk utter impoverishment to avert the possible loss of a few cents .that one alternative can be viewed as simply ineligible relative to another. pages 53-73) Zarefsky's observation is intriguing. Consider how often critics have voided disadvantages following a uniqueness response. The Method Lab . In the conditions at issue." In this light consider a choice-situation of the form set out in Figure 1. [“Risk: A Philosophical Introduction to the Theory of Risk Evaluation and Management”.at any rate as long as we are not dealing with probabilities that are "effectively zero.org/CAD/2000_berube. While the response reduces the likelihood of the internal link story. uniqueness is not a threshold issue. for acceptance is an on/off matter. high probabilities can never be a sufficient condition of acceptance. 1983.so great a difference in the relative size of the prospective negativities at issue . 2000. the possible losses at issue can prove to be of altogether different orders. 2000. The prospect of such a negativity is simply unacceptable relative to the gains or losses otherwise operative in the situation.pdf. and probability has degrees." Thus no matter what the balance of probabilities. a probabilistic one. many judges round up as well.one would rationally opt for one and shun the other regardless of how the probabilities x and yare adjusted. One "just can't take the chance. without reference to any "balance of probabilities." (261) [ ] Catastrophes moot the paralysis argument – even with low probabilities. To be sure. It is unjustified as well as unrealistic to take the stance that all negativities are essentially comparable and to hold that one can always be balanced off against another by such probabilistic manipulations. it is a linear one. de Sousa warns: A pragmatic conception of probability needs something broader than mere acceptance. low probability can never be a sufficient condition of rejection. Berube. quite independently of considerations of probabilistic detail. On the other hand." The prospective damage of the one alternative is too great in relation to the potential loss of the other. And because of what I call the Lem Paradoxt.cedadebate. . . Risk theorists find this false dualism troubling. uniqueness responses only reduce the probability of the internal link story. the customary decision-approach via expected-value comparisons would always enable us to establish a probabilistic proportion between the risks at issue by balancing the expected -value equation . Associate Professor of Speech Communication and Director of Debate at the University of South Carolina (David M.] Disparity of Risk Situations and the Threshold of Relative Unacceptability A disparity of risks arises when there is so serious an imbalance among alternative eventuations . In a situation of this sort. a contest debater may claim that recent Presidential behavior makes the claim not unique. The negativity of Y can be so large relative to that of X that they are simply not in the same league . remains after a uniqueness challenge. For example. responding to contest debaters who have begged the risk question by a final rebuttal appeal to mini-max reasoning. in response to a Presidential leadership internal link story. Some uniqueness. However. the "reasonable man" would not risk loss of life or limb to avert the prospect of some trivial inconvenience. Because of the lottery paradox. p35-36. reasonability requires decision makers to avoid extinction consequences Nicholas Rescher is an American philosopher.
defend the assumptions underlying that assessment. we still fear that debate would be enslaved to low probability/high impact scenarios. The more difficult task is to frame an alternative. This innovation. Their main characteristic. suggesting that a probability weighting function (that maps the unit interval into itself with discontinuities at 0 and 1) exhibiting over-weighting of small probabilities and underweighting of moderate and high probabilities may explain the observed nonlinearities. the disputants should argue in favor of a particular perspective which allows the critic to make comparisons of dissimilar alternatives.g. Research Director and Affiliate professor at HEC (Mohammed Abdellaoui. in return. However. The pre-dominant approach prespecifies parametric forms for these functions and then estimates them through standard techniques (e. 46.. Available Online via ERIC Number ED354559. and apply statistical tests to prove that the risks were statistically significant. and therefore. The second strategy consists of eliciting the utility and probability weighting functions at the level of individuals. however. p. be factored into the decision? How would statistical tests be applied? While risk analysis would be improved if these questions were addressed. How could debaters meaningfully measure the probability associated with some of the arguments in debate? How can assumptions. No. Finally. Camerer and Ho 1994. It is. seldom expressed in the debate. Statistical tests may also be applied to the evidence and models used. Vincent Follert offered the following guidelines in his article critiquing the use of risk analysis in debate: Each disputant should justify numerical estimates of the probability and valence of outcomes. 2000). risk analysis offers a uniquely valuable method of assessing and comparing a variety of competing policy alternatives. The Method Lab . 11 (Nov. At a more fundamental level. pp. provides direct measurements of both functions. we believe that Follert's guidelines fail to address many of our concerns. 16 While we appreciate the spirit and intent of Follert's suggestions. the elicitation of RDEU and CPT models. Two research strategies can avoid the potential problems of parametric estimation. Recognizing this fact. 1992 [Director of the Fulton Debating Society at Boston College. [ ] Examining low probability outcomes is necessary – the dominant weighting functions are non-linear Abdellaoui. consists of allowing not only the transformation of outcomes into utilities. We believe that a better approach to addressing this problem would be to rehabilitate our notion of probability. we question their workability in the debate setting. 2000. a theory of choice under risk. Hey and Orme 1994. Such tests may also be applied to the evidence offered in the debate.. 1497-1512. This approach is more demanding. Prospect Theory (PT). Tversky and Kahneman 1992.org/stable/2661664) In a seminal paper. Management Science. Professor of Communication at Boston College. Subsequently. The first strategy consists of testing simple preference conditions to obtain information about the shape of either the utility function or the probability weighting function.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 49 They Say “Ignore Low Probability” [ ] Focusing only on probability is impractical – it is impossible to assign accurate probabilities to risk and there is no alternative to using impacts Dale Herbeck.” Paper Presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Chicago.Dependent Expected Utility (RDEU) theory (Quiggin 1982. and Cumulative Prospect Theory (CPT) (Tversky and Kahneman 1992). but. Vol. As a tool. as well. A variety of methods have been used to determine the shapes of the utility function and the probability weighting function under RDEU and CPT. modern generalizations of PT were proposed through Rank. October 29th-November 1st. IL). Wakker 1994). assuming specific functional forms for the utility function and the probability weighting function makes inference about the shapes of these functions dependent on the choice of functional forms. 10-12] It is easy to indict the use of risk analysis in policy debate. difficult to imagine how you could evaluate without some notion of risk analysis.jstor. Ev --i if a debater could quantify the probability. has been perceived as a factor complicating utility mea-surement. Debaters could give more attention to the analytical assumptions made by their opponents. “The Use and Abuse of Risk Analysis in Policy Debate. http://www. “Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions”. without any parametric assumption. Kahneman and Tversky (1979) present experimental evidence that preferences between risky prospects are not linear in probabilities. Tver-sky and Fox 1995). simply put. but also the transformation of decumulative probabilities to obtain decision weights through a probability weighting function. They propose. it seems impossible to address them meaningfully within current debate formats. in decision under risk.
high probabilities can never be a sufficient condition of acceptance. Finally. On the contrary. for instance. responding to contest debaters who have begged the risk question by a final rebuttal appeal to mini-max reasoning. While the response reduces the likelihood of the internal link story. for acceptance is an on/off matter. a contest debater may claim that recent Presidential behavior makes the claim not unique. [ ] Low probability is not a reason to reject the impact.pdf. Moreover. The second investigates indi-vidual differences in probability weighting for monetary gains through an alternating least square estimation method. “Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions”.org/stable/2661664) A few months after a first version of this paper was completed. these results are consistent (for gains) with those obtained recently by Tversky and Fox (1995). 2000). Some uniqueness. This paper also elicits probability weighting func-tions for losses. The first paper reports experimental re-sults regarding probability weighting in medical decision mak-ing (using the tradeoff method). Then the ques-tion of the shape of the probability weighting func-tion is addressed. remains after a uniqueness challenge. 1497-1512.. This allows a straightforward com-parison of the treatment of probabilities for gains and losses at the level of individual subjects. Accessed 04-05-2008. 46. Given that the elicitation of the probability weight-ing function in this paper needs the construction of the utility function to be carried out first. nonlinearity). Overall. many judges round up as well.threshold probability is too simplistic and risk is linear David Berube. Management Science. pp. Bleichrodt and Pinto (1998) and Gonzalez and Wu (1999) fin-ished two papers proposing two methods to elicit probability weighting functions. uniqueness responses only reduce the probability of the internal link story. 64-69] Zarefsky's observation is intriguing. Consider how often critics have voided disadvantages following a uniqueness response. Available Online at http://www. And because of what I call the Lem Paradoxt. 2000. This question has received rather contradictory answers in the experimental literature. . On the other hand. the first em-pirical question addressed concerns the shape of the utility function. .e. Because of the lottery paradox." (261) The Method Lab . Volume 21. Camerer (1992). For example. Wu and Gonzalez (1996). Vol. the data suggest a descriptive superiority of CPT over RDEU.” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate. in agreement with other recent findings (Wakker and Deneffe 1996. This paper confirms the latter (i. the data confirm the existence of a significant difference between the probability weighting function for gains and the probability weighting function for losses. in response to a Presidential leadership internal link story.org/CAD/2000_berube. http://www. Risk theorists find this false dualism troubling. The data confirm that individuals transform probabilities consistently with the psycho-logical principle of diminishing sensitivity. 11 (Nov. with the two end points of the probability interval serving as reference points.jstor. Harless and Camerer (1994).. Research Director and Affiliate professor at HEC (Mohammed Abdellaoui. low probability can never be a sufficient condition of rejection. Fox and Tversky 1998). Its qualitative properties issuing from the psychological principle of diminishing sensitivity are confirmed here. obtained re-sults through nonparametric techniques suggesting a linear weighting function for intermediate probabili-ties (see also Cohen and Jaffray 1988). it is a linear one. a probabilistic one. 2000 [Director of Debate “Debunking Mini-max Reasoning: The Limits Of Extended Causal Chains In Contest Debating. yet the critics round down and ignore the leadership disadvantage entirely. de Sousa warns: A pragmatic conception of probability needs something broader than mere acceptance. However. p.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 50 They Say “Ignore Low Probability” [ ] Prioritizing small probabilities of high risks is psychologically justified – we have diminished sensitivity to smaller impacts Abdellaoui.cedadebate. Fennema and van Assen 1998. found sup-port for nonlinearity. and probability has degrees. The likeliness a uniqueness response is absolute is very low. No. Indeed. uniqueness is not a threshold issue. or probability. the hypothesis of linearity of the proba-bility weighting function for moderate probabilities is investigated. . Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of South Carolina. and Ab-dellaoui and Munier (1998). among others. For example.
2001 prof of Philosophy. the necessarily highly speculative and multidisciplinary nature of the topic. methodological. Public awareness should also be built up so that constructive political debate about possible countermeasures becomes possible. Jstor] 9 Implications for policy and ethics Existential risks have a cluster of features that make it useful to identify them as a special category: the extreme magnitude of the harm that would come from an existential disaster.1 Raise the profile of existential risks We need more research into existential risks – detailed studies of particular aspects of specific risks as well as more general investigations of associated ethical. Vol. ~1%) the subject matter would still merit very serious attention because of how much is at stake. 9. the shared stakeholdership of all future generations. In each of the four categories. the subtle and diverse methodological problems involved in assessing the probability of existential risks. it’s a commonplace that researchers always conclude that more research needs to be done in their field. and the comparative neglect of the whole area. My subjective opinion is that setting this probability lower than 25% would be misguided. March 2002. and the best estimate may be considerably higher.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 51 They Say “Ignore Low Probability” [ ] We cannot ignore even low probability extinction risks – too much is at stake Nick Bostrom. security and policy issues. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. In general. Now. The Method Lab . First version: 2001 March. the international nature of many of the required countermeasures. the catch-all hypotheses (which include both types of scenarios). and getting killed by an extraterrestrial civilization (which would be highly unlikely in the near future). But in this instance it is really true. we can extract tentative recommendations for ethics and policy: 9. There is more scholarly work on the life-habits of the dung fly than on existential risks. although there is not room here to elaborate on the details. First version: 2001 March. the top risks are engendered by our activities. these indirect arguments add important constraints to those we can glean from the direct consideration of various technological risks. But the balance of evidence is such that it would appear unreasonable not to assign a substantial probability to the hypothesis that an existential disaster will do us in. the greatest existential risks on the time-scale of a couple of centuries or less appear to be those that derive from the activities of advanced technological civilizations. We see this by looking at the various existential risks we have listed. Vol. the fact that existential risk dilution is a global public good. 2001 prof of Philosophy. The only significant existential risks for which this isn’t true are “simulation gets shut down” (although on some versions of this hypothesis the shutdown would be prompted by our activities ). JStor In combination. March 2002. From our survey of the most important existential risks and their key attributes. [ ] Discussion existential threats is good – it builds public awareness and examines ethical and political dimensions of policy making Nick Bostrom. the futility of the trial-and-error approach. But even if the probability were much smaller (say. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. asteroid or comet impact (which is a very low probability risk). the lack of evolved biological and cultural coping methods. 9.
1982. bankruptcy. pp. The Method Lab . Once these have gone wrong nothing will make them right again. 22-23). It underlines a reluctance to reason in terms of average long-term outcomes. The lack of compensation is what matters most. pp.Irreversible disasters should be prioritized regardless of probability because we cannot recover Vertzberger. I... that avoids an explicit. framing plays a role in two basic ways. or compensate for them. Professor at the Department of International Relations. The impli-cations for the more specific value-of-human-life-assessmentd ilemma are discussed in Teuber. Here. as discussed earlier. Vertzberger. Death is the central example. No. Since decision-makers deal with events that did not occur and assessments of '2For a general discussion of trade-off avoidance by decision-makers and the resultant irrational consistency. “Rethinking and Reconceptualizing Risk in Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Sociocognitive Approach”. or. New information that should have called their attention to other risk sets is then assimilated into the priorc alculations throughm isperceptiono r misinterpretation. it influences the way in which counterfactual results are presented. and on the other hand there is the general problem of how to give less crucial goods any weight at all in comparison. The problem this poses for decision making is also two-sided. precise statement of trade-off calculations. but there are many others: dishonor. 1983. see Jervis. Political Psychology. This evasive approach allows for misleading ambiguities. if that is not possible. Israel (Yaacov Y. On the one hand there are dilemmas about giving a weight to risks of death and other disasters. Decision-makers believe that the policy they favor is better than alternative policies in terms of the risk it poses on several logically independent value dimensions. Midterm policy evaluations.org/stable/3791835) A particularly controversial and painful choice is how and whether to discount lives.jstor. where available feedbacks become a basis for deciding between policy continuity and change. Typically there are irreversible disasters. http://www. In the latter case the decision-maker compares actual results with counterfactual re-sults. are based on two types of consider-ations: the decision-makers' perception of actual policy outcomes and of the outcomes that might have occurred had a different policy been adopted. pp. that is.. though.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 52 They Say “Ignore Low Probability” [ ] Extinction outweighs because it is irreversible . Consequently problems are framed in a way that understates the humanlife cost dimension. So our reluctancet o reason probabilistically on some topics and our tendency to value some things incomparably more than others are two sides of the same coin. Second. 1995. Vol. They focus their attention on one set of risk calculations and then adjust all other risk calculations to fit the conclusions they infer from risks that are the focus of their attention (Jervis. 1976. especially when outcomes are ambiguous. First. 347-380.'2 The more general dilemma is clearly phrased by Morton (1991): The reason why risky choices are so hard. 2. June 1995. (pp. the failure of one's life work. and why different people can reasonably have differenta ttitudest o them. is that we ranks ome things as incomparablyw orse thano thers. 109-110) Framing plays an important role not only in the predecisional process but also in midterm policy evaluations. whether to give deaths far into the future less weight than present deaths. 128-142. 1990). the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. whether the loss or gain dimensions are emphasized. it affects the way in which the actual outcomes are presented-for exam-ple. 16. in order to compare the relative value of the current policy with possible alternatives (Miller et al..
 Our collective fear-response is likely ill calibrated to the magnitude of threat. If we take into account the welfare of future generations. Russia and the US retain large nuclear arsenals that could be used in a future confrontation. Note however that a smaller nuclear exchange. An all-out nuclear war was a possibility with both a substantial probability and with consequences that might have been persistent enough to qualify as global and terminal. Respect for national sovereignty is not a legitimate excuse for failing to take countermeasures against a major existential risk. we shall see that nuclear Armageddon and comet or asteroid strikes are mere preludes to the existential risks that we will encounter in the 21st century. This requires foresight to anticipate new types of threats and a willingness to take decisive preventive action and to bear the costs (moral and economic) of such actions. The reactive approach – see what happens. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. Reductions in existential risks are global public goods  and may therefore be undersupplied by the market . 9. moral norms. limit damages. Vol.Our approach to existential risks cannot be one of trial-and-error. the size of which depends on whether and how much we discount future benefits [15. and future generations magnify the size of the impact infinitely Nick Bostrom. The Method Lab . and learn from experience – is unworkable. is not an existential risk. Existential risks are a menace for everybody and may require acting on the international plane.16]. social attitudes or national security policies that developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. we must take a proactive approach.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 53 They Say “Ignore Low Probability” [ ] Extinction threats must trump other forms of risk calculus – we don’t have the option to experiment. 2001 prof of Philosophy. March 2002. JStor A much greater existential risk emerged with the build-up of nuclear arsenals in the US and the USSR. There is no opportunity to learn from errors. our existing decision making processes are inadequate. either accidentally or deliberately. 2. First version: 2001 March. There was a real worry among those best acquainted with the information available at the time that a nuclear Armageddon would occur and that it might annihilate our species or permanently destroy human civilization. Such a war might however be a local terminal risk for the cities most likely to be targeted. Unfortunately. between India and Pakistan for instance. We cannot necessarily rely on the institutions. There is also a risk that other states may one day build up large nuclear arsenals. Rather. We might find it hard to take them as seriously as we should simply because we have never yet witnessed such disasters. since it would not destroy or thwart humankind’s potential permanently. Existential risks are a different kind of beast. the harm done by existential risks is multiplied by another factor. The special nature of the challenges posed by existential risks is illustrated by the following points: 1.
we can call it Maxipok: Maximize the probability of an okay outcome. At best. The Method Lab . March 2002. where an “okay outcome” is any outcome that avoids existential disaster. Jstor] Previous sections have argued that the combined probability of the existential risks is very substantial. it is nonetheless arguable that because the negative utility of an existential disaster is so enormous. Oxford University [ Journal of Evolution and Technology. since there clearly are other moral objectives than preventing terminal global disaster. a prima facie suggestion. Although there is still a fairly broad range of differing estimates that responsible thinkers could make. 9. Its usefulness consists in helping us to get our priorities straight. 2001 prof of Philosophy. the objective of reducing existential risks should be a dominant consideration when acting out of concern for humankind as a whole. The cleft between the feel-good projects and what really has the greatest potential for good is likely to be especially great in regard to existential risk. It may be useful to adopt the following rule of thumb for moral action. First version: 2001 March. namely to reshape the popular moral perception so as to give more credit and social approbation to those who devote their time and resources to benefiting humankind via global safety compared to other philanthropies. Vol. there is less of a feel-good dividend to be derived from efforts that seek to reduce them. this is a rule of thumb. Since the goal is somewhat abstract and since existential risks don’t currently cause suffering in any living creature. rather than a principle of absolute validity. This suggests an offshoot moral project.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 54 They Say “Tyranny of Survival [ ] Focusing on infinite risk doesn’t destroy morality – maximizing the potential of avoiding extinction is moral itself Nick Bostrom. Moral action is always at risk to diffuse its efficacy on feel-good projects rather on serious work that has the best chance of fixing the worst ills.
education. mineral wealth. as is the case of manufactured goods.. The Method Lab . rather than brand names.. the greater the incidence of conflict’ (ibid. Many countries in Africa and Asia needed control of resources to provide military and police power but only minimal services to control territory. Wayne Nafziger. Sovereignty provided the opportunity to extract resources from the major powers in exchange for diplomatic support. The following. defined as the stocks of both renewable resources . war. pp. increases the occurrence and duration of civil war. Mwanasali (2000. pp. 124).. 123-24). 92-95) that the possession of primary commodities. 437-79). Prof of Comparative Economics. and Juha Auvinen. explains why minerals contribute to conflict and state violence. Because they are generic products. When the cold war ended in the early 1990s. pp. once De Soysa refines her independent variable to include only mineral resources. . According to De Soysa’s statistical tests (2000. She finds that ‘the higher the per capita availability of . the United States and the Soviet Union provided military and economic aid for developing countries. “Primary commodity exports present several advantages to the belligerents. Univ of Illinois.edu/ economics/nafwayne/EcDev. and agricultural development (Reno. especially exports. They are usually the most heavily taxable. Indeed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank emphasis on the market and private enterprise. pp. 2 vols. . and state violence e. nation-states and rebels in the developing world required different strategies and new sources of funds. 145) indicates the reasons why. . “the incidence of civil war is completely unrelated to the per capita availability of natural resources. inequality. pp. In the struggle for allies during the cold war. .” Primary goods include both agricultural (usually renewable) and mineral (largely nonrenewable) commodities. Collier 2000a. Väyrynen 2000b.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 55 They Say “Resource Wars Improbable” [ ] Resource wars are very real and probable – studies confirm. and nonrenewables.ksu. 2000. and their production or marketing does not require the complicated processes. their origin can easily be concealed. her result is highly significant.doc Collier contends (Collier and Hoeffler 1998. http://www.” But. 231-32. 2002 [ economic development. based mainly on work by WIDER researchers (Nafziger et al. 568-69. Juha Auvinen is a Docent of International Politics at the University of Helsinki. Yet aid could provide the basis for supporting a patronage system for either the state or for insurgents in opposition. p. predatory rulers often undermined their own bureaucracies to build personal power at the expense of health. p. 2000). especially in kind.
however. mimicked the “warlord” approach of his non-state rivals. the intensity of deprivation felt increases with the discrepancy between potential and actual conditions. p.doc The struggle for control over minerals and other natural resources are important sources of conflict. In Angola. The Method Lab . In comparison. rulers have found it advantageous to “destroy state agencies. increases vulnerability to war and humanitarian emergencies. if Sierra Leone reduced government expenditure and employment. Juha Auvinen is a Docent of International Politics at the University of Helsinki. and farm products) to support arms imports. the Bank. and Juha Auvinen. foreign mercenaries and advisors to replace the national army in providing security. with an upper limit around $200 million. pp. 1998. In the process. 1995. Yet. as in Sierra Leone. 1996. warlords. Reno. Liberia. 2000). In this situation. airfields.Kinshasa. Sierra Leonean heads of state have relied on exclusive contracts with foreign firms for diamond mining to stabilize revenue. 252). a warlord during most of the 1990s before being elected Liberia’s president in 1997. 147-81). and bilateral creditors offered loans and debt rescheduling worth $625 million. to ‘cleanse’ them of politically threatening patrimonial hangers-on and use violence to extract resources from people under their control” (Reno. pp. In response. In 1991. some rulers. Mobutu. For Taylor. An abrupt rush of mineral wealth increases the expectations of prosperity. 73..edu/ economics/nafwayne/EcDev. 7-8. warlords. the length and intensity of perceived deprivation were considerable. 444-45). and Sierra Leone. telecommunications network. timber. and with the length of time the deprivation persists. similar to rulers in other retrenching African states. Univ of Illinois. 1998. pp. the eventual president of the Democratic Republic of Congo until assassinated in 2001 (ibid. pp. 243. the eastern periphery of Sierra Leone. Even Zaire’s President Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997). export trade (in diamonds. Indeed Taylor had access to annual revenues exceeding $100 million. pp. rulers and warlords used exclusive contracts with foreign firms for diamonds and other minerals to “regularize” sources of revenue in lieu of a government agency to collect taxes (Reno.Kinshasa.ksu. needing new ways of exercising power. and state violence e. Charles Taylor used external commercial networks (foreign firms).” Mobutu weathered the collapse of the state bureaucracy. to amass power over Liberia. Congo . war. his forces fell to the Alliance des Forces Democratique pour la Liberation (AFDI) of Laurent Kabila. war. pp. As Reno (1996. In Liberia. Indeed. Relative deprivation also helps explain the increased violence by belligerents and their clients. 12). from 1990 to 1996 (Reno 2000. 1996. controlling territory by building a patronage network was easier than building a state and its bureaucracy (Reno. to prevent a coup by newly marginalized groups in the army or bureaucracy. and traders are more likely to profit from war and violence than in peacetime. In 1997. about 80 per cent of GNP. like other hard-pressed rulers in weak African states. Wayne Nafziger. inequality. some a legacy of the Samuel Doe regime of the late 1980s. 9-16. and at times. Prof of Comparative Economics. But privatization did not eliminate the pressures of clients demanding payoffs but merely shifted the arena of clientage to the private sector. Sierra Leone was more susceptible to pressures for liberalization and adjustment from the IMF and World Bank.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus 56 They Say “Resource Wars Improbable” [ ] Resources are often the cause of conflicts – history proves. seriously weakening the patronage system. and their clients benefit from the harm thereby befalling a substantial share of the population. 16) points out. as Väyrynen (2000b. In Angola. Tanzania and Togo lacked the tradable resources to become a predatory society (Väyrynen 2000b. In the 1990s. http://www. and (until 1993) a deepwater port. and Zaire. Indeed. and foreign contractors (sometimes the same mining or security firms) to provide other state services. Sierra Leone's ruling elites. needed to reconfigure his political authority. State failure. “Those who do not take part in accumulation on the ruler's terms are punished. Indigenous commercial interests that profit from the new rules are not independent capitalists with interests distinct from the state’s. But with the shrinking patronage base from foreign aid and investment. Liberia. and Congo . Taylor's territory had its own currency and banking system. Freetown heeded the World Bank's advice (1994. 79) indicates. p. not only by the allies of rulers and warlords that control the resource but also the lure to potential rebels of combat to control the resource. 111). in a weak or failed state. political violence. but fell because his strategy of milking state assets had reached a limit. and state failure do not result from the incapacity of public institutions but from the fact that rulers. the IMF. After the decline of aid after the cold war. as Gurr (1970. used foreign firms to consolidate power and stave off threats from political rivals. gold. 442) argues. 22-51) to use private operators to run state services for a profit. 2002 [ economic development. p. foreign firms and contractors served as a new source of patronage networks. Sierra Leone. pp.
Relative deprivation spurs social discontent.ksu. results from insurgent action. These phenomena affect relative deprivation. 2000. To forestall threats to the regime. inequality. In fact. and state violence e. Prof of Comparative Economics. however. Collier. sparking violent conflict. developing) countries. pp. which provides motivation for collective violence (Gurr. spreading hunger and disease. contributing to further economic stagnation that can threaten the legitimacy of the regime and increase the probability of regime turnover. Juha Auvinen is a Docent of International Politics at the University of Helsinki. a fact not recognized in most research on war (cf.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus [ 57 They Say “Economic Collapse = Nuclear War Improbable” ] Economic decline leads to a sense of social injustice. 2002 [ economic development. inequality. 2000a and Collier and Hoeffler. 1970). Juha Auvinen is a Docent of International Politics at the University of Helsinki. a trait that interacts as cause and effect of their relative poverty. Univ of Illinois. leading to further violence. 243-50). war. 16). undermining economic activity. where the actors’ income or conditions are related to those of others within society. Moreover. especially during a period of high expectations. and Juha Auvinen. 2000a).ksu. worsening the humanitarian crisis. Holsti (2000) demonstrates that the policies of governing elites are at the root of most humanitarian emergencies. pp. Prof of Comparative Economics. the actors' perception of social injustice from a discrepancy between goods and conditions they expect and those they can get or keep. and Juha Auvinen. political elites may use repression to suppress discontent or capture a greater share of the majority's shrinking surplus. emergencies are more likely to occur in countries experiencing stagnation in real GDP per capita and a breakdown in law and public services. and fueling refugee flows. This deprivation often results from vertical (class) or horizontal (regional or communal) inequality (Stewart 2000.edu/ economics/nafwayne/EcDev. and state violence e. p. 2000. A disproportional number of these states are also weak or failing (Holsti. [ ] Economic downturns in states with corrupt governments leads to violent acts of revolution. Univ of Illinois. war and violence have major catalytic roles.doc Only a portion of violence. suggesting a threshold above which war and massive state violence do not occur. http://www.doc Contemporary emergencies are found in low. Wayne Nafziger. war. Ruling elites can expand rent-seeking opportunities for existing political elites. Moreover.edu/ economics/nafwayne/EcDev. are more likely to produce socio-political discontent that may be mobilized into political violence.and middle-income (that is. Tangible and salient factors such as a marked deterioration of living conditions. repression and economic discrimination may generate relative deprivation and trigger sociopolitical mobilization on the part of the groups affected. 292-94). as in Sudan in the 1980s (Keen. 2002 [ economic development. The Method Lab . adding to social disruption and political instability. These repressive policies may entail acts of direct violence against or withholding food and other supplies from politically disobedient groups. Among the components of emergencies. Slow or negative per-capita growth puts ruling coalitions on the horns of a dilemma. Wayne Nafziger. http://www.
pp. we should not be surprised that since 1980 the globe. and the increased economic liberalism of donors and international financial institutions. the greater is the social damage and the more painful the adjustment. Ake (1996.ksu. war. Prof of Comparative Economics. rising borrowing costs. Negative per-capita growth interacts with political predation in a downward spiral. reduced concessional aid. Contemporary humanitarian disaster is rarely episodic but is usually the culmination of longer-term politicoeconomic decay over a period of a decade or more. The interrelationships between growth and emergencies suggest that the increased emergencies in the early 1990s are connected to the developing world's disastrous growth record of the 1980s. profit-seeking activities in a political system they control than from long-term efforts to build a wellfunctioning state in which economic progress and democratic institutions flourish. Econometric and country evidence indicates that. from 1960 to 1980. In addition. From 1980 to 1991. p. and contributing to increased opportunistic rentseeking and overt repression. Economic stagnation. But non-adjustment has the greater cost. although. a predatory state. frequently accompanied by chronic trade deficits and growing external debt. slow real GDP growth helps explain humanitarian emergencies. according to the earlier World Bank annual (1982. The majority of countries with humanitarian emergencies have experienced several years (or even decades) of negative or stagnant growth. has been more vulnerable to humanitarian emergencies.” (Holsti.. such as Sierra Leone. Cuts in spending reduced the funds to distribute to clients. holding other variables constant. only 9 of 53 had negative economic growth. which reduce the ability of political leaders to maintain control.1 GDP per capita was lower in the late 1990s than it was at the end of the 1960s (World Bank. the ruling elite and their clients “use their positions and access to resources to plunder the national economy through graft. Ethiopia. facing limitations in dispersing benefits to a wide-ranging coalition of ethnic communities and economic groups. Angola. 2000. inequality.edu/ economics/nafwayne/EcDev. according to the World Bank's World Development Report (1993. Cause and effect between state failure and rent seeking are not always clear. and required greater military and police support to remain in power. pp. In some predatory states. as ruling elites. State failure need not necessarily result from the incapacity of public institutions. while “state failure can harm a great number of people. 440).. In contrast. pp. the state in Africa tends to be privatized. according to the same World Bank sources.” (Väyrynen 2000b. which had the highest death rate from wars. Sierra Leone. Sudan. Indeed in Africa. p. 251). Humanitarian emergencies also contribute to reduced (often negative) growth (Stewart et al. Instead political leaders may gain more from extensive unproductive. particularly Africa. and strengthened their military capability to repress potential rebels and dissidents. Liberia. 238-9). Instead. such as minerals. driven by ethnic and regional competition for the bounties of the state. and thus subject to extensive rent-seeking. But. More than a decade of slow growth. These activities tend to be pervasive in countries that have abundant mineral exports (for example.doc Since economic deceleration or collapse can disrupt ruling coalitions and exacerbate mass discontent. Elites extract immediate rents and transfers rather than providing incentives for economic growth. http://www. p.Michigan 2009 Risk Calculus [ ] Unstable governments create economic downfalls that inevitably lead to humanitarian crisis. a mounting debt crisis. This stagnation and decline was often associated with. Most LDCs face frequent international balance-of-payments problems. 1). 110-1). material inducement. 442) especially governing elites and their allies. 2002 [ economic development. that is. and Liberia (section 4). The Method Lab . This increase in intrastate political conflict and humanitarian emergencies in Africa in the last two decades of the twentieth century is linked to its negative per-capita growth in the 1970s and 1980s and virtual stagnation in the 1990s. “an omnipresent policy to obtain private benefit from public action and resources. compelled LDC (especially African) elites to change Widespread economic liberalization and adjustment provided chances for challenging existing elites. 40 of 58 (69 per cent of) Afro-Asian countries experienced negative growth. corruption. 42) contends that “Instead of being a public force. struggled for control. p. tending to degrade the institutional foundations of the economy and state. p. Somalia.2 the longer the disequilibrium. Juha Auvinen is a Docent of International Politics at the University of Helsinki.” (ibid. and extortion. 11-41). 2000. This disastrous growth was accompanied by state decay.Kinshasa. and Juha Auvinen. and exacerbated by. can provide the ruler or warlord with a modicum of security. the positive growth of Latin America and the Caribbean during the 1960s and 1970s also reversed to negative growth in the 1980s. according to econometric tests by Auvinen and Nafziger (1999). together with a strong military. diamonds and petroleum). from petty survival venality at the lower echelons of government to kleptocracy at the top. 58 They Say “Economic Collapse = Nuclear War Improbable” Wayne Nafziger. Univ of Illinois. and personality politics. a spiral seen in African countries such as Angola. Widespread negative growth among populations where a majority is close to levels of subsistence increases the vulnerability to humanitarian disasters. it can also benefit others. These elites may not benefit from avoiding political decay through nurturing free entry and the rule of law and reducing corruption and exploitation. their strategies during the 1980s and 1990s. appropriated to the service of private interests by the dominant faction of the elite. where growth refers to real growth in GNP or GDP per capita.” People use funds at the disposal of the state for systematic corruption. and state violence e. allied with other strongmen. abundant exports. and to participate in private business activities. Humanitarian crises are more likely to occur in societies where the state is weak and venal. and Zaire (Congo). A persistent external disequilibrium has costs whether countries adjust or not. Congo . intensifies the need for economic adjustment and stabilization. while predatory economic behavior has a lower pay-off in mineral-export-poor economies such as Tanzania and Togo. Predatory rule involves a personalistic regime ruling through coercion. threatening their positions. the direction of causation is weaker than from growth to emergencies. 1997.
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