Precautionary Culture and the Rise of Possibilistic Risk Assessment

24 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2009

See all articles by Frank Furedi

Frank Furedi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: November 2, 2009


The shift from probabilistic to possibilistic risk management characterises contemporary cultural attitudes towards uncertainty. This shift in attitude is paralleled by the growing influence of the belief that future risks are not only unknown but are also unknowable. Scepticism about the capacity of knowledge to help manage risks has encouraged the dramatisation of uncertainty. One consequence of this development has been the advocacy of a precautionary response to threats. This article examines the way in which precautionary attitudes have shaped the response to the threat of terrorism and to the millennium bug. The main accomplishment of this response has been to intensify the sense of existential insecurity.

Keywords: precautionary principle, possibilistic risk assessment

Suggested Citation

Furedi, Frank, Precautionary Culture and the Rise of Possibilistic Risk Assessment (November 2, 2009). Erasmus Law Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Frank Furedi (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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