Document Type


Publication Title

Risk: Health, Safety & Environment

Publication Date

Winter 1998


The problem of "decision making in the face of uncertainty" is how to regulate on the basis of incomplete information that has significant potential to be inaccurate. My primary goal is to clarify some aspects of such decision-making through surveying types of uncertainty inherent in information. I present a taxonomy for kinds of inherent uncertainty - a classification and description of the "faces"of uncertainty. A second goal is to identify which kinds of uncertainty can and cannot now be measured quantitatively.

A contextual assumption is that we need to evaluate decision rules for dealing with faces of uncertainty. As a social enterprise, risk regulation, whatever its substantive objectives, should be as effective, efficient and equitable as practically possible. These "three E's" form a set of "process objectives" or "meta-goals."