Wilting rationalism in technical decision making
Item Type:Conference Paper
Citation:Marc Maes, Yves Heroes, Wilting rationalism in technical decision making, 14th International Conference on Applications of Statistics and Probability in Civil Engineering (ICASP14), Dublin, Ireland, 2023.
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Decision makers in diverse engineering disciplines, ranging from technical risk analysis and design to the development of risk-informed policies that impact on technology and society, benefit from the existence of a solid and well-respected theory for principled decision making. The requirement of ﾓrationalityﾔ when applying the tools/techniques within the decision making framework, is fundamental yet largely taken for granted. New age thinking has shifted many of the distinctive features of ﾓrationalﾔ decision making. This paper identifies a set of key ﾓmodernistic attitudesﾔ that have recently emerged from shifting value systems and changing socio-economic preferences. It provides case studies and examples of how such attitudes lead to poor decisions. The paper also outlines a Bayesian framework to potentially account for and/or rectify specific attitudes. Rational and systematic thinking is becoming a neglected victim to many ﾓmodernistic attitudesﾔ. To start with, the attitude of ultracrepidarianism suggests that it is OK to sacrifice/ignore science and research in favour of strongly felt opinion. Similarly, the sociological trend of juvenilization suggests there is added value in making cool and even entertaining decisions. Financialization, market-driven decisions, and other forms of ﾓsponsoredﾔ preference promotion are key drivers in shifting attitudes in todayﾒs technical decision making. The gradual rise of a precautionary culture that started almost 50 years ago has, in specific technological areas, germinated attitudes ranging from short-term (bounded) rationalism to excessive caution and has triggered a reactionary counter stream of largely irrational attitudes such as recklessness with facts and figures, and presumption with regards to the feasibility of technical solutions. The paper stresses that we need a fresh re-evaluation of rationalism in the context of decision making. The emphasis has shifted away from the paradigm ethical contrast between rational decision making versus irrational decision making with a whole series of new-wave attitudes re-shaping thinking, methodology, and analysis. In the paper we also outline a Bayesian framework for capturing the effect of specific ﾓattitudesﾔ in decision making. This framework is based on the calibration of posterior information about such attitudes based on ﾓstatedﾔ decisions in a multi-decision-maker context. Such analysis can provoke insight into the assessment of the ﾓqualityﾔ of decisions with respect to key attitudes; it may help re-assess shaky decisions and offer resolution between conflicting decisions. However, ﾓrationalityﾔ remains a rather vague principle, but one that cannot be bypassed as it plays an essential role in quality decision making.
Other Titles:14th International Conference on Applications of Statistics and Probability in Civil Engineering(ICASP14)
Type of material:Conference Paper
Series/Report no:14th International Conference on Applications of Statistics and Probability in Civil Engineering(ICASP14)
Availability:Full text available