On Funtowicz and Ravetz's “Decision Stake—System Uncertainties” Structure and Recently Developed Risk Perspectives


University of Stavanger, Centre of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Norway; terje.aven@uis.no.


The Funtowicz and Ravetz model for classifying problem-solving strategies into applied sciences, professional consultancy, and postnormal sciences is well known in the social science risk literature. The model is illustrated in a diagram based on the two axes: (i) decision stakes—the value dimension (costs, benefits) and (ii) the system uncertainties—the knowledge dimension. These axes resemble the same two dimensions that characterize some recently developed risk perspectives: (a) consequences and the severity of these consequences and (b) associated uncertainties. In this article, we make a detailed comparison of these two types of risk frameworks. We point to similarities and differences in motivation and use. A main conclusion of the article is that these risk perspectives all provide adequate scientific bases for the Funtowicz and Ravetz model. New insights are provided on the understanding of what the outcome stakes/consequences and uncertainty dimensions really capture in these perspectives and frameworks.