The Precautionary Principle and its Normative Challenges
von Schomberg, R. (2006 ), 'The precautionary principle and its normative challenges', in E. Fisher, J. Jones and R. von Schomberg. (eds) (2006), Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Perspectives and Prospects, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, US: Edward Elgar, chapter 2. p19-42.
20 Pages Posted: 14 May 2014 Last revised: 31 Oct 2014
Date Written: January 6, 2006
This contribution aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the normative dimensions which need to be addressed while invoking the precautionary principle, implementing it under particular regulatory frameworks and applying it by taking particular measures. This contribution is written from the perspective of a policy analyst, and informed by an EU practice which is still evolving. In the second section, I will make an overview he normative challenges the precautionary principle faces in terms of deliberation at the levels of politics, policy making and the science-policy interface. In the third section, I will elaborate more specifically on one of the normative considerations which can trigger of the precautionary principle, namely ‘a reasonable grounds for concern’ which refers to the seriousness of particular threats under circumstances of scientific uncertainty. In the fourth section, I will elaborate on the normative standards for the acceptability of a particular level of protection of the environment or human health. I conclude with an operational definition of the precautionary principle on which all EU policy can, and should be based. The precautionary principle is a deliberative principle. Its application involves deliberation on a range of normative dimensions which need to be taken into account while making the principle operational in the public policy context. The term ‘normative’ refers here to all the prescriptive statements and or value judgements in contrast to factual scientific statements.
Keywords: precautionary principle, environmental law, ethics, deliberation, decisionmaking under uncertainty, risk management
JEL Classification: Q33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation