Acting under Uncertainty: Multidisciplinary Conceptions / Edition 1by George M. von Furstenberg
Pub. Date: 02/28/1990
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Uncertainty could be associated with wisdom, enterprise, and discovery. In ordinary speech, however, it has mostly negative connotations. There is "fear of the unknown" and "ignorance is bliss;" there are maxims to the effect that "what you don't know doesn't hurt you" (or: "bother you") in several languages. This volume suggests that we need be bothered by the excessive confidence with which scientists, particularly social scientists, present some of their conclusions and overstate their range of application. Otherwise many of the questions that should be raised about all the major uncertainties attending a particular issue routinely may continue to be thwarted or suppressed. Down playing uncertainty does not lead to more responsible or surer action, it sidetracks research agendas, and leaves the decision makers exposed to nasty surprise. This volume demonstrates that recognizing the many forms of uncertainty that enter into the development of any particular subject matter is a precondition for more responsible choice and deeper knowledge. Our purpose is to contribute to a broader appreciation of uncertainty than regularly accorded in any of the numerous disciplines represented here. The seventeenth-century French philosopher Descartes, quoted in this volume, wrote that "whoever is searching after truth must, once in his life, doubt all things; insofar as this is possible. " White areas left on maps of the world in past centuries were a much more productive challenge than marking the end of the known world with the pillars of Hercules.
Table of ContentsI. The Evolution of Scientific Conceptions of Uncertainty and Their Social Underpinnings.- 1. Coping with Uncertainty in Natural Science: 1200–1700.- 2. Political, Moral, and Economic Decisions and the Origins of the Mathematical Theory of Probability: The Case of Jacob Bernoulli’s The Art of Conjecturing.- 3. The Quantification of Uncertainty After 1700: Statistics Socially Constructed?.- 4. Uncertainty and the Conditioning of Beliefs.- 5. The Unity of Probability.- 6. Necessity, Chance, and Freedom.- II. Risk Analysis and Social Responsibility.- 7. Risk in Cultural Perspective.- 8. Statistical Hypothesis Tests and Statistical Power in Pure and Applied Science.- 9. Uncertainty in Environmental Risk Assessment.- 10. Uncertainty in Morals and Politics.- III. Learning and Acting Under Uncertainty.- 11. Re-Modeling Risk Aversion: A Comparison of Bernoullian and Rank Dependent Value Approaches.- 12. Neither Gullible Nor Unteachable Be: Signal Extraction and the Optimal Speed of Learning from Uncertain News.- 13. Rethinking Rational Expectations.- 14. Multiattribute Decision Models: Task Order and Group Effects.- IV. Coping With Extreme Forms of Uncertainty.- 15. Measuring Vague Uncertainties and Understanding Their Use in Decision Making.- 16. Quantifying Vagueness and Possibility: New Trends in Knowledge Representation.- 17. Chaos and Complexity in Economic and Financial Science.- 18. Information.
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