Acting under Uncertainty: Multidisciplinary Conceptions

  • George M. von Furstenberg

Part of the Theory and Decision Library book series (TDLA, volume 13)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. The Evolution of Scientific Conceptions of Uncertainty and Their Social Underpinnings

  3. Risk Analysis and Social Responsibility

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 159-159
    2. Steve Rayner
      Pages 161-179
    3. Glenn W. Suter II
      Pages 203-230
    4. Hector-Neri Castañeda
      Pages 231-264
  4. Learning and Acting under Uncertainty

  5. Coping with Extreme Forms of Uncertainty

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 375-375
    2. H. L. Resnikoff, M. L. Puri
      Pages 451-469
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 471-485

About this book


Uncertainty could be associated with wisdom, enterprise, and discovery. In ordinary speech, however, it has mostly negative connotations. There is "fear of the unknown" and "ignorance is bliss;" there are maxims to the effect that "what you don't know doesn't hurt you" (or: "bother you") in several languages. This volume suggests that we need be bothered by the excessive confidence with which scientists, particularly social scientists, present some of their conclusions and overstate their range of application. Otherwise many of the questions that should be raised about all the major uncertainties attending a particular issue routinely may continue to be thwarted or suppressed. Down playing uncertainty does not lead to more responsible or surer action, it sidetracks research agendas, and leaves the decision makers exposed to nasty surprise. This volume demonstrates that recognizing the many forms of uncertainty that enter into the development of any particular subject matter is a precondition for more responsible choice and deeper knowledge. Our purpose is to contribute to a broader appreciation of uncertainty than regularly accorded in any of the numerous disciplines represented here. The seventeenth-century French philosopher Descartes, quoted in this volume, wrote that "whoever is searching after truth must, once in his life, doubt all things; insofar as this is possible. " White areas left on maps of the world in past centuries were a much more productive challenge than marking the end of the known world with the pillars of Hercules.


calculus decision making environment modeling

Authors and affiliations

  • George M. von Furstenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1990
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-5785-3
  • Online ISBN 978-94-015-7873-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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