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The concepts of risk and uncertainty in perspective

The specifics of the concepts of risk and uncertainty in the context of techno-scientific society will be explored at the conference "Questioning Concepts of Risk and Uncertainty in Issues of Scientific and Technological Bases", to be held on March 13, at 9.30 am, in IEA-USP’s Event Room.

This is the first in a series of four meetings of the 25th International Seminar on Philosophy, History, and Sociology of Science and Technology (see schedule below), which will feature Portuguese sociologist Helena Mateus Jerónimo as exhibitor. The first meetings will focus on the theoretical discussion of the concepts of risk and uncertainty, while the last ones will analyse different case studies.

Jerónimo holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, is a professor of the School of Economics and Management (ISEG) at the Technical University of Lisbon (UTL) and a researcher at UTL’s Centre for Research in Economic and Organizational Sociology (SOCIUS), where she develops studies in Scientific, Technological and Environmental Sociology.

Organized by IEA-USP’s Philosophy, History, and Sociology of Science and Technology Research Group, the seminar is coordinated by philosopher Pablo Mariconda, professor at USP’s Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH) and coordinator of the group.

The event will be broadcast live on the web.

FIRST MEETING

In the seminar's opening conference, Jerónimo will explain the concept of risk and uncertainty with a focus on the impacts generated by the phenomena of scientific and technical bases. From this point, she will make the theoretical questioning of these concepts, highlighting aspects that distinguish them.

According to the researcher, "to defend a conception based on risk or uncertainty is not an indifferent option, particularly in controversial cases involving serious hazards, unforeseen consequences and a technological solution. Risk and uncertainty point to specific interpretation and orientation, therefore triggering different policy implications. Risk is associated with prevention, while the various types of uncertainty are related to caution."

Among the issues to be addressed by Jerónimo at the meeting are:

  • Is the concept of risk clear enough to characterize contemporary societies and the environmental problems that have, in general, extensive, lasting and comprehensive characteristics?
  • Can this concept be used as a key tool for a model of evaluation and orientation of these new environmental problems?
  • Can one rely only on the experts of science and technology to assess, predict and resolve these problems?

 

PROGRAMME
25th International Seminar on Philosophy, History, and Sociology of Science and Technology
March 13
9.30 am
Questioning Concepts of Risk and Uncertainty in Issues of Scientific and Technological Bases
Exhibitor: Helena Mateus Jerónimo
March 20
9.30 am
The Scientific Expertise: Its Specifics in Knowledge and in Action
Exhibitor: Helena Mateus Jerónimo
March 28
9.30 am
When Uncertainties are reduced to Risks: the Conflict Around the Hazardous Waste in Portugal
Exhibitor: Helena Mateus Jerónimo
April 4
9.30 am
The Continuing Catastrophe: The Fukushima Accident and the Uncertainties of Nuclear Power Plants
Exhibitor: Helena Mateus Jerónimo