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Uncertainty and the Environment

Implications for Decision Making and Environmental Policy

Richard Young

This thought provoking book is concerned with the need to deal adequately with uncertainty in environmental decision making. The author advances a critique of the use of traditional models and then develops an alternative model of decision making under uncertainty, based on the work of George Shackle.
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Chapter 9: Discussion: A Framework for the Evaluation of Hard Uncertainty in Environmental Decision Making

Richard Young


9.1 INTRODUCTION In the previous chapter the Shackle model was applied as a tool to help to explain the way in which uncertainty was dealt with at an individual as well as an institutional level within the decision-making process. An explanation was forwarded, in which although the decision-making process did result in the sifting out of the possible outcomes of a project or policy, the presence of hard uncertainty did not appear to have been dealt with in a manner consistent with that outlined in the Shackle model. This chapter therefore, in analysing why this may be the case, assesses the existing conceptualization of uncertainty at an institutional level as well as the practical (rather than theoretical) mechanisms currently used to deal with uncertainty. It is argued that to a large extent only a limited conceptualization of uncertainty is given which results in none of the existing mechanisms applied within the decisionmaking process giving adequate attention to hard uncertainty. Building on the theoretical development of the Shackle model in this book, and its application in a behavioural sense to the case study of the Southern Highway, a normative framework for dealing with hard uncertainty is advanced. Correspondingly this chapter is organized into two main sections. In the first section the different conceptualizations of uncertainty within the different institutions are analysed both in relation to the case study as well as at a more general level. Then the mechanisms which are designed to deal with uncertainty in the decision-making process are...

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