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Selection: with tag values-vs-scientific-evidence [14 articles] 


On the use of cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria evaluation in ex-ante impact assessment

Vol. 28768 EN (2017),


When a public administration wishes to implement policies, there is a need of comparing different options and valuating and evaluating them to assess their social attractiveness. Traditionally, welfare economics has used cost-benefit analysis based on the Kaldor-Hicks compensation principle, which was invented to achieve two clear objectives: [::1] To compare individuals’ preferences according to the efficiency oriented utilitarian calculus, explicitly avoiding the principle one individual, one vote. [::2] To implement an objective evaluation criterion, that could be accepted in the framework of the ...


Discounting... on stilts

The University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 74, No. 1. (2007), pp. 119-138


[Excerpt] Jeremy Bentham famously described the concept of natural rights as “nonsense upon stilts.” This Response argues that cost-benefit analysis (CBA)—a contemporary applied version of Bentham’s utilitarianism for public policy analysis—is also nonsensical in that CBA purports to resolve questions, the answers to which have already been subsumed within the framework’s architecture. In particular, CBA subsumes vital questions of intergenerational equity through its use of an exponential discount factor to adjust future costs and benefits to a present value. This discounting procedure has the practical effect of dramatically diminishing the apparent ...


The limits of cost/benefit analysis when disasters loom

Global Policy, Vol. 7 (May 2016), pp. 56-66,


[Abstract] Advances in estimating the costs and benefits of climate change policies are a welcome development, but a full-scale cost/benefit analysis that seeks to reduce complex value trade-offs to a single metric of net benefit maximization hides many important public policy issues, especially for disasters and catastrophes that are large, discontinuous, irreversible and uncertain. States should obtain public input on such policies. These policies involve value trade-offs that can be informed by technocratic estimates of costs, benefits and risk. However, such analyses ...


The science of value: economic expertise and the valuation of human life in US federal regulatory agencies

Social Studies of Science, Vol. 47, No. 4. (21 March 2017), pp. 441-465,


This article explores efforts to apply economic logic to human life. To do so, it looks at federal regulatory agencies, where government planners and policy makers have spent over a century trying to devise a scientifically sound way to measure the economic value of lives lost or saved by public programs. The methods they have drawn on, however, have changed drastically in the past 40 years, shifting from a ‘human capital’ approach based on models of economic productivity and producing relatively low ...


The real cost of energy

Nature, Vol. 553, No. 7682. (2017), pp. S145-S147,


All energy production has environmental and societal effects. But calculating them — and pricing energy accordingly — is no easy task. [Excerpt] [...] Electricity production is rife with externalities. Mining for raw materials often causes water pollution, habitat destruction and socio-economic harm. Burning coal pollutes the air, sickening and killing people, and introduces toxic mercury into the aquatic food chain. Nuclear-power plants require the clean-up and maintenance of radioactive materials after decommissioning. Energy production uses water, sometimes at the expense of agriculture and ...


Impact of population growth and population ethics on climate change mitigation policy

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 46. (14 November 2017), pp. 12338-12343,


[Significance] We investigate how future population growth is relevant to climate change policy. The answer depends importantly on ethical questions about whether our ultimate goal should be to increase the number of people who are happy or rather to increase the average level of people’s happiness. We calculate the best (optimal) emissions reduction pathway given each of these two different goals that society might have and calculate how much cheaper it would be to avoid dangerous interference with the climate given a ...


How population growth relates to climate change

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 46. (14 November 2017), pp. 12103-12105,


[Excerpt] Currently, around 7.5 billion people live on our planet and scenarios for the future show a plausible range from 8.5 to over 12 billion before the population will level off or start to decline, depending on the future course of fertility and mortality (1, 2). These people will also have to cope with the consequences of climate change that may be in the range of 1.5 °C to more than 3 °C, depending on the scale of mitigation efforts. The ...


Helping a victim or helping the victim: altruism and identifiability

Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Vol. 26, No. 1. (2003), pp. 5-16,


Although it has been claimed that people care more about identifiable than statistical victims, demonstrating this “identifiable victim effect” has proven difficult because identification usually provides information about a victim, and people may respond to the information rather than to identification per se. We show that a very weak form of identifiability—determining the victim without providing any personalizing information—increases caring. In the first, laboratory study, subjects were more willing to compensate others who lost money when the losers had already been ...


Fears rise for US climate report as Trump officials take reins

Nature, Vol. 548, No. 7665. (1 August 2017), pp. 15-16,


Officials at the US Environmental Protection Agency are consulting global-warming sceptics as they weigh up a technical review. ...


Global environmental issues and the emergence of Second Order Science

Vol. 12803 (1990)


[Excerpt: Introduction] The fundamental achievements of science, like those of all creative activities, have a timeless quality. The social activity of science, like any other, evolves in response to its changing circumstances, in its objects, methods and social functions. In the high Middle Ages, the independence of secular learning was established in the universities, removed from the monasteries; and the boundary between the sacred and private on the one hand, and the secular and public on the other, was set for ...


Research on a razor's edge

Science, Vol. 356, No. 6342. (09 June 2017), pp. 1094-1094,


[Excerpt] [...] Scientists in the United States face a shortage of tenure-track faculty jobs and fierce competition for a shrinking pool of grants. These dimming prospects reflect decades of underinvestment in the sciences. The current administration threatens to make things worse. We are all doing research on a razor's edge. [\n] It's no surprise that American scientists are becoming increasingly curious about opportunities elsewhere in the world. U.S. spending on research and development still ranks among the highest, but those who are ...


The development of environmental thinking in economics

Environmental Values, Vol. 8, No. 4. (November 1999), pp. 413-435,


There has always been a sub-group of established economists trying to convey an environmental critique of the mainstream. This paper traces their thinking into the late 20th century via the development of associations and journals in the USA and Europe. There is clearly a divergence between the conformity to neo-classical economics favoured by resource and environmental economists and the acceptance of more radical critiques apparent in ecological economics. Thus, the progressive elements of ecological economics are increasingly incompatible with those practising ...


Encourage governments to heed scientific advice

Nature, Vol. 537, No. 7622. (28 September 2016), pp. 587-587,


To stop evidence-based policy losing its clout, researchers need to engage with policymakers and understand their needs, says Bill Colglazier. [Excerpt] [...] Most governments do want to consider and harness science, technology and innovation. [...] Why, then, is science losing its clout in the current political debates? In my view, the explanation is relatively simple. In the short term, politics, or more precisely value judgements, trump science. This is especially true when there are scientific uncertainties. [\n] Value judgements come in three varieties. ...


The economic value of human life

American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health, Vol. 57, No. 11. (November 1967), pp. 1954-1966,


To establish the economic value of a human life, lifetime earnings discounted at a 4 per cent rate are presented by age, sex, color, and education. These estimates are intended for use by economists, program planners, and others. Various specific findings are reported. ...

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