Uncertainty and Risk : Multidisciplinary Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

Uncertainty and Risk
Multidisciplinary Perspectives

ISBN 9781844078516
Published July 16, 2009 by Routledge
400 Pages

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Book Description

�This is a major, and deeply thoughtful, contribution to understanding uncertainty and risk. Our world and its unprecedented challenges need such ways of thinking! Much more than a set of contributions from different disciplines, this book leads you to explore your own way of perceiving your own area of work. An outstanding contribution that will stay on my shelves for many years.� Dr Neil T. M. Hamilton, Director, WWF International Arctic Programme �This collection of essays provides a unique and fascinating overview of perspectives on uncertainty and risk across a wide variety of disciplines. It is a valuable and accessible sourcebook for specialists and laypeople alike.� Professor Renate Schubert, Head of the Institute for Environmental Decisions and Chair of Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology �This comprehensive collection of disciplinary perspectives on uncertainty is a definitive guide to contemporary insights into this Achilles� heel of modernity and the endemic hubris of institutional science in its role as public authority. It gives firm foundations to the fundamental historic shift now underway in the world, towards normalizing acceptance of the immanent condition of ignorance and of its practical corollaries: contingency, uncontrol, and respect for difference.� Brian Wynne, Professor of Science Studies, Lancaster University �Bammer and Smithson have assembled a fascinating, important collection of papers on uncertainty and its management. The integrative nature of Uncertainty and Risk makes it a landmark in the intellectual history of this vital cross-disciplinary concept.� George Cvetkovich, Director, Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University Uncertainty governs our lives. From the unknowns of living with the risks of terrorism to developing policies on genetically modified foods, or disaster planning for catastrophic climate change, how we conceptualize, evaluate and cope with uncertainty drives our actions and deployment of resources, decisions and priorities. In this thorough and wide-ranging volume, theoretical perspectives are drawn from art history, complexity science, economics, futures, history, law, philosophy, physics, psychology, statistics and theology. On a practical level, uncertainty is examined in emergency management, intelligence, law enforcement, music, policy and politics. Key problems that are a subject of focus are environmental management, communicable diseases and illicit drugs. Opening and closing sections of the book provide major conceptual strands in uncertainty thinking and develop an integrated view of the nature of uncertainty, uncertainty as a motivating or de-motivating force, and strategies for coping and managing under uncertainty.

Table of Contents

Preface * Part I: Setting the Scene * Introduction * The Many Faces and Masks of Uncertainty * Adopting Orphans: Uncertainty and Other Neglected Aspects of Complex Problems * Part II: More than a Cabinet of Curiosities: Disciplinary and Practice Perspectives on Uncertainty * When Action Can t Wait: Investigating Infectious Disease Outbreaks * Uncertainty and Religion: Ten Provisional Theses * Uncertainty in the Physical Sciences: How Big? How Small? Is It Actually There At All? * Statistics: An Essential Tool for Model Citizens * A Philosopher‘s Guide to Probability * Musical Improvisation, Creativity and Uncertainty * Uncertainty as a Creative Force in Visual Art * Historians and Disputes over Uncertainty * Approaches to Uncertain Futures * Embracing Social Uncertainties with Complex Systems Science * Heroin: Injected with Uncertainty * Political Practice: Uncertainty, Ethics and Outcomes * Smoke and Mirrors: Managing Uncertainty in the Public Health Sector * Economists and Uncertainty * Psychology‘s Ambivalent View of Uncertainty * Uncertainty in Decision-making: Intelligence as a Solution * Emergency Management Thrives on Uncertainty * Uncertainty, Complexity and the Environment * Uncertainty, Terrorism and Law Enforcement * Certainty as Illusion: The Nature and Purpose of Uncertainty in the Law * Part III: Unifying Diversity * The Nature of Uncertainty * Uncertainty Metaphors, Motives and Morals * Coping and Managing under Uncertainty * Part IV: Implications for Risk Assessment and Management * Coping with Deep Uncertainty: Challenges for Environmental Assessment and Decision-making * Risk, Uncertainty and Social Controversy: From Risk Perception and Communication to Public Engagement * Index

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Gabriele Bammer is a Professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University and a Research Fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University. Michael Smithson is a Professor at the School of Psychology at The Australian National University.


'The book takes [a] broad view, looking at uncertainty in religion, philosophy, visual art, and musical improvisation, as well as more often-explored fields.' Natural Hazards Observer '[t]he most comprehensive book that I have seen in this field to date, both in terms of the sheer breadth and depth of the various chapters, and the diverse backgrounds and experience of the authors. This book definitely broadens the scope of how one looks at and perceives the issues of uncertainty and risk after reading it ... fresh perspectives that would not ordinarily be seen are uncovered for the reader.' Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 'This book provides the widest coverage of the subject of uncertainty hitherto known in the literature...it is an excellent reatise on the subject and the reviewer would recommend to one and all' Krishna B. Misra, International Journal of Performability Engineering