Cost-Benefit Analysis Versus the Precautionary Principle: Beyond Cass Sunstein's Laws of Fear

44 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2005  

Gregory N. Mandel

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

James Thuo Gathii

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Abstract

Perhaps the quintessential role of government is to protect its citizens from threats of all types: war, global warming, terrorism, disease, toxic substances. This essay provides a review and cri-tique of Sunstein's innovative contribution to the lively debate over how government should perform this role, a debate that often pits cost-benefit analysis against the precautionary principle. The authors contend that Sunstein's critique of the precautionary prin-ciple has merit, but that his much-discussed Laws of Fear propos-als are deficient in several significant respects. Sunstein's pro-posals fail to solve problems related to cost-benefit analysis, implementation of deliberative democracy, and incorporation of social values into responses to threats. The essay concludes with a recommendation for reconceptualizing the precautionary prin-ciple in a manner that saves it from Sunstein's critiques.

Keywords: Cost benefit, precautionary principle, threat, risk, fear, technology

JEL Classification: H11, K00, K32, K33, L51, O13, O14, O33, O38, Q17

Suggested Citation

Mandel, Gregory N. and Gathii, James Thuo, Cost-Benefit Analysis Versus the Precautionary Principle: Beyond Cass Sunstein's Laws of Fear. University of Illinois Law Review, p. 1037, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=822186

Gregory Mandel (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
(215) 204-2381 (Phone)

James Thuo Gathii

Loyola University Chicago School of Law ( email )

25 East Pearson
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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