University of Turku, Finland
Abstract. The precautionary principle that calls for early measures to avoid and mitigate uncertain environmental damages (and health hazards) in the future has come to the fore in risk debates. This paper evaluates three criticisms which have been presented in academic discourses, in political arenas, and also in public discussions in order to reject the principle altogether. In particular, the criticisms are labelled as the argument from vagueness, the argument from incoherence, and the argument from adverse effects. It is argued that these objections do not result in the abandonment of the precautionary principle on the whole, but only of its particular implausible interpretations. The conclusion drawn is that the burden of proof remains with the ones who reject the principle.
Keywords: environmental law and policy, risk governance, environmental risks, precautionary principle, vagueness, incoherence, adverse effects, health hazards, uncertainty, ambiguity, burden of proof
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