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Dealing with uncertainty
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
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 [en]
safety factor, safety margin, uncertainty factor, uncertainty function, uncertainty, information, risk, risk assessment, risk management, epistemology, science, reasoning
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-72680ISBN: 978-91-7501-216-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-72680DiVA: diva2:487971
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
List of papers
1. Uncertainty, credal sets and second order probability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Uncertainty, credal sets and second order probability
2013 (English)In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 190, no 3, 353-378 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The last 20 years or so has seen an intense search carried out within Dempster–Shafer theory, with the aim of finding a generalization of the Shannon entropy for belief functions. In that time, there has also been much progress made in credal set theory—another generalization of the traditional Bayesian epistemic representation—albeit not in this particular area. In credal set theory, sets of probability functions are utilized to represent the epistemic state of rational agents instead of the single probability function of traditional Bayesian theory. The Shannon entropy has been shown to uniquely capture certain highly intuitive properties of uncertainty, and can thus be considered a measure of that quantity. This article presents two measures developed with the purpose of generalizing the Shannon entropy for (1) unordered convex credal sets and (2) possibly non-convex credal sets ordered by second order probability, thereby providing uncertainty measures for such epistemic representations. There is also a comparison with the results of the measure AU developed within Dempster–Shafer theory in a few instances where unordered convex credal set theory and Dempster–Shafer theory overlap.

Keyword
uncertainty, probability, information, credal set, entropy
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-72663 (URN)10.1007/s11229-011-0042-2 (DOI)000313656400002 ()2-s2.0-84872470316 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Note

QC 20130204

Available from: 2012-02-01 Created: 2012-02-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. Information gain and approaching true belief
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Information gain and approaching true belief
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Recent years has seen a renewed interest in the philosophical study of information. In this paper a two-part analysis of information gain – objective and subjective – in the context of doxastic change is presented and discussed. Objective information gain is analyzed in terms of doxastic movement towards true belief, while subjective information gain is analyzed as an agent’s expectation value of her objective information gain for a given doxastic change. The resulting expression for subjective information gain turns out to be a familiar one with well-known formal properties: the Kullback-Leibler divergence.

The suggested measure of subjective information gain is then compared with the view that information gain equals uncertainty reduction. Three counterexamples to the latter view are suggested and it is also argued that the numerical results given by the suggested measure of subjective information gain in those three cases are considerably more intuitive.

Keyword
belief, change, doxastic, information, truth, uncertainty
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-72675 (URN)
Note
QS 2012Available from: 2012-02-01 Created: 2012-02-01 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved
3. Reasoning with Safety Factor Rules
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reasoning with Safety Factor Rules
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.

Keyword
Safety factor, uncertainty factor, decision theory, reasoning, heuristics
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6001 (URN)
Note
QC 20101110. Uppdaterad från Accepted till Published (20101110).Available from: 2006-04-14 Created: 2006-04-14 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved
4. Generalizing the Safety Factor Approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Generalizing the Safety Factor Approach
2006 (English)In: Reliability Engineering & System Safety, ISSN 0951-8320, Vol. 91, no 8, 964-973 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Safety factors (uncertainty factors) are used to avoid failure in a wide variety of practices and disciplines, in particular engineering design and toxicology. Although these two areas have similar problems in their use of safety factors, there are no signs of previous communication between the two disciplines. The present contribution aims at initiating such communications by pointing out parallel practices and joint issues between the two disciplines. These include the distinction between probabilistic variability and epistemic uncertainty, the importance of distribution tails, and the problem of countervailing risks. In conclusion, it is proposed that future research in this area should be interdisciplinary and make use of experiences from the various areas in which safety factors are used.

Keyword
Safety factor, Uncertainty, Uncertainty factor, Uncertainty function, Variability
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6000 (URN)10.1016/j.ress.2005.09.002 (DOI)000238936100011 ()2-s2.0-33748677263 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20101110. Uppdaterad från In press till Published (20101110).Available from: 2006-04-14 Created: 2006-04-14 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved
5. Eurocodes and REACH - differences and similarities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Eurocodes and REACH - differences and similarities
2007 (English)In: Risk Management: An International Journal, ISSN 1460-3799, no 19, 19-35 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The developments of the new European construction standard (Eurocodes) and the new European chemical legislation (REACH) have taken place in parallel, and they are now both in their final stages. Both consist in European harmonization of safety regulations that concern major industries. In this paper, we compare Eurocodes and REACH in terms of purpose, intended level of harmonization, the science-policy interface and controversies about the costs of the regulations. We have found that the science-policy interface of REACH is characterized by public controversy and by attempts to keep risk assessment and risk management apart while the science-policy interface of Eurocodes is characterized by trust in experts, limited public involvement and organizational confluence of risk assessment and risk management. Furthermore, the costs of REACH have been a major issue in discussions between the Commission and the chemical industry while, in contrast, the costs of Eurocodes have not even been calculated either by the Commission or by the construction industry. A major reason for this is that construction industry does not seem to regard possible cost increases due to Eurocodes as a threat to their business interests. Regulators seem to have treated the cost issue as a business interest, not as an aspect of the decision that they should be concerned with even in the absence of external pressure.

Keyword
Eurocodes, REACH, policy, science, chemicals, construction
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6002 (URN)10.1057/palgrave.rm.8250022 (DOI)
Note
QC 20101110. Uppdaterad från Submitted till Published (20101110).Available from: 2006-04-14 Created: 2006-04-14 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved

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