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Reasoning with Safety Factor Rules
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9934-3833
2007 (English)In: Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, ISSN 1091-8264, Vol. 11, no 1, 55-70 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Safety factor rules are used for drawing putatively reasonable conclusions from incomplete datasets. The paper attempts to provide answers to four questions: “How are safety factors used?”, “When are safety factors used?”, “Why are safety used?” and “How do safety factor rules relate to decision theory?”. The authors conclude that safety factor rules should be regarded as decision methods rather than as criteria of rightness and that they can be used in both practical and theoretical reasoning. Simplicity of application and inability or unwillingness to defer judgment appear to be important factors in explaining why the rules are used.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 11, no 1, 55-70 p.
Keyword [en]
Safety factor, uncertainty factor, decision theory, reasoning, heuristics
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-6001DiVA: diva2:10566
Note
QC 20101110. Uppdaterad från Accepted till Published (20101110).Available from: 2006-04-14 Created: 2006-04-14 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Is it safe? safety factor reasoning in policy-making under uncertainty
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is it safe? safety factor reasoning in policy-making under uncertainty
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the practice of using safety factors in decision-making under uncertainty, in particular in the areas of toxicology and civil engineering. The aim is to expose and clarify some of the philosophical issues surrounding the practice.

Paper I (co-written with Sven Ove Hansson and Fred Nilsson) gives an historical background to the practice of formal safety factor and safety margin use. The notion of an uncertainty function is presented as a more general concept covering safety margins, safety factors and the related uncertainty factors. Three categories of uncertainty functions are identified: explicit, implicit and natural safety reserves. Finally, the problems of countervailing risks and distribution arbitrariness are discussed.

Paper II (co-written with John Cantwell) discusses the relation between decision-making with safety factor rules and the ideal of formal normative decision theory. The role of safety factor rules in practical and theoretical reasoning is also examined and certain difficulties regarding normative evaluation of safety factor rules are pointed out.

Paper III (co-written with Sven Ove Hansson) looks at two current regulatory systems under development: Eurocodes for construction and REACH for chemicals. The two regulations have many similarities but reactions to them have been highly divergent. The differences are discussed and some hypotheses as to their explanation are suggested.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. 6 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1654-627X
Keyword
safety factor, uncertainty factor, uncertainty function, uncertainty, rationality, policy, decision, science, risk
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4053 (URN)91-7178-405-5 (ISBN)
Presentation
2006-06-14, Seminarierummet, Teknikringen 78 B, 2 tr., Stockholm, 14:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101110Available from: 2006-04-14 Created: 2006-04-14 Last updated: 2010-11-10Bibliographically approved
2. Dealing with uncertainty
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dealing with uncertainty
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Uncertainty is, it seems, more or less constantly present in our lives. Even so, grasping the concept philosophically is far from trivial. In this doctoral thesis, uncertainty and its conceptual companion information are studied. Axiomatic analyses are provided and numerical measures suggested. In addition to these basic conceptual analyses, the widespread practice of so-called safety factor use in societal regulation is analyzed along with the interplay between science and policy in European regulation of chemicals and construction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. 25 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 40
Keyword
safety factor, safety margin, uncertainty factor, uncertainty function, uncertainty, information, risk, risk assessment, risk management, epistemology, science, reasoning
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-72680 (URN)978-91-7501-216-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-02-17, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20120202Available from: 2012-02-02 Created: 2012-02-01 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved

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