Author Meets Critics: Daniel Steel (Philosophy, Michigan State), Philosophy and the Precautionary Principle
Friday, April 24, Stevenson Hall 1145, 2:30-5pm
Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy
Professor Steel will give an accessible overview of his recent book, followed by critical commentaries by Rotman Institute members Jessey Wright, Amy Wuest, and Daniel Hicks.
Scholars in philosophy, law, economics, and other fields have widely debated how science, environmental precaution, and economic interests should be balanced in urgent contemporary problems such as climate change. One controversial focus of these discussions is the precautionary principle, according to which scientific uncertainty should not be a reason for delay in the face of serious threats to the environment or health. While the precautionary principle has been very influential, no generally accepted definition of it exists and critics charge that it is incoherent or hopelessly vague. This book presents and defends an interpretation of the precautionary principle from the perspective of philosophy of science, looking particularly at how it connects to decisions, scientific procedures, and evidence. Through careful analysis of numerous case studies, it shows how this interpretation leads to important insights on scientific uncertainty, intergenerational justice, and the relationship between values and policy-relevant