Summary of "Acceptable Risk"

Summary of

Acceptable Risk

By Baruch Fischhoff, Sarah Lichtenstein, Paul Slovis, Stephen L. Derby, and Ralph L. Keeney

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Acceptable Risk, Baruch Fischhoff, Sarah Lichtenstein, Paul Slovis, Stephen L. Derby, Ralph L. Keeney, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) 185 pp.

Acceptable Risk is required by Dr. Guy Burgess and Professor Charles Lester for ARSC 5010/7010. Fischhoff et al offer useful information for those concerned with an acceptable risk problem by first defining of the problem and then asserting it to be a decision problem. They acknowledge the difficulties with which acceptable risk problems are resolved and attribute these difficulties to what they term 'five generic complexities'. These complexities are: uncertainty about the problem definition, difficulties in assessing the facts, difficulties in assessing values, uncertainty about the human element, and difficulties in assessing decision quality.

Acceptable Risk provides assistance for those searching for approaches to acceptable risk problems by outlining seven criteria for evaluating the acceptability of approaches to such problems. The authors next discuss how professionals determine acceptable risk and the problems associated with professional judgment, including the adequacy of professional judgment for resolving such problems. The authors next offer similar analyses for boot-strapping and formal analysis as methods for resolving acceptable risk questions. Formal analysis covers decision analysis and cost-benefit analysis and variants thereof. Fischhoff et al engage in a comparison of approaches and examine in depth the tool of global ratings, and offer advice on choosing an appropriate approach.

The final three chapters offer assistance to those engaged in acceptable risk decision making and research. The authors summarize their findings about acceptable risk questions while offering their recommendations. They offer recommendations for: the technical community, public involvement, the marketplace, and government. The concluding chapter proposes areas for future research. The authors offer reasons for pursuing research to reduce uncertainty about: problem definition, facts, values, the human element and decision quality.

Acceptable Risk offers an in-depth analysis of the acceptable risk problems and offers a systematic approach toward their resolution.