Riscophrenia and "animal spirits": clarifying the notions of risk and uncertainty in environmental problems
ResumoThis article seeks to clarify the concepts of risk and uncertainty, restricting its focus to environmental problems and to three strands of reflection. Firstly, I suggest that we should apply the label riscophrenia to the tendency to envisage most environmental problems excessively in terms of probabilistic risk, erecting the concept to a core dogma of certainty based on the image it offers of (alleged) safety and control of the random. Looking at the most serious environmental problems of the twenty-first century through the prism of "animal spirits" is above all an exercise which shows that unpredictability and uncertainties are constituent elements of human existence and social life. Secondly, I argue that the assessment of uncertainty has political and normative implications. I hold that uncertainty may make it possible to invoke precautionary, not just preventive, measures, and that alternative "contextualised" research strategies, open to a variety of points of view, are possible. Lastly, I claim that the language of risk and its excessive application is generally laden with a type of ambiguity which tends not to emphasize society's current problems, and so facilitates the continuation rather than the questioning of our society's dominant technocratic and technological model.
Jerónimo, H. M. (2014). Riscophrenia and "animal spirits": clarifying the notions of risk and uncertainty in environmental problems . Scientiae Studia, 12(spe), 57-74. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1678-31662014000400004