Against Beck: In defence of risk analysis

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (2):149-172 (2006)
For more than 10 years, Ulrich Beck has dominated discussion of risk issues in the social sciences. We argue that Beck's criticisms of the theory and practise of risk analysis are groundless. His understanding of what risk is is badly flawed. His attempt to identify risk and risk perception fails. He misunderstands and distorts the use of probability in risk analysis. His comments about the insurance industry show that he does not understand some of the basics of that industry. And his assertions about the wrongness of allowing acceptable levels of exposure to toxic chemicals do not stand up to scrutiny. Key Words: Beck • risk analysis • risk perception • probability • insurance.
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