Varieties of Risk

AHRC sponsored research project

Joint VoR-RoR Workshop on Risk and Recklessness

On April 22-23, there will be a joint Varieties of Risk and Roots of Responsibility Workshop on Risk and Recklessness, organized by Claire Field and featuring Philip Ebert, Martin Smith, Petronella Randell, and Dylan Balfour from the Varieties of Risk team.

The workshop features a diverse selection of philosophers and legal theorists working on questions related to risk, recklessness, and the relation between the two. The workshop will feature both short talks, and pre-read papers. More information is available on the workshop page (http:/
You can register to receive the Zoom link and pre-read papers here:

Thursday 22nd April (BST)
1-2 David Prendergast “Distinguishing Recklessness from Negligence in Criminal Law
Respondent: David Campbell
2.30-3.30 Martin Smith “Rights and the Ethics of Risk Imposition”
Respondent: Claire Hogg
4-5 Alexander Greenberg “Culpability, Consciousness, and Carrying on Regardless”

Friday 23rd April
9-10 Johanna Thoma “Merely Means Paternalist? Prospect Theory and ‘Debiased’ Welfare Analysis”
Respondent: Petronella Randell
10.30-11.30 Joseph Bowen “Rights: Facts, Evidence, or Beliefs?”
Respondent: Dylan Balfour
12-1 Philip Ebert “Gratuitous Risk: Perceived Danger and Recklessness Judgements about Outdoor Sports Participants”
Please make sure you register to receive the Zoom link, as well as the link to the pre-read papers. 

School Outreach Activity: “Why how we assess risk and evidence matters”

In February 2020, Giada Fratantonio, Post-Doc on the VoR project, in collaboration with Italian High School A. Frattini (Varese), introduced a group of high-schoolers to some of the foundational issues about the epistemology and psychology of risk, focusing on the following three questions:

i) How should we evaluate risk?
ii) How do we tend to evaluate risk?
iii) Why how we assess risk matters?

After learning about the basic principles of probability, as well as the cognitive biases that often underpin our risk judgments, the students discussed why it's important to be vigilant in how we perceive and assess risk.

To use an example, Giada asked the students to consider conspiracy theories they found on the internet, and discussed ways in which believing in conspiracy theories can be problematic not only from an epistemic point of view, but from a practical and ethical perspective as well. For instance, students reflected on how the spreading of conspiracy theories could have the effect of undermining rational debate and fostering mistrust in scientific communities. The lectures were followed by a lively discussion with the students, who were able to think about how they engage with social media, and how they consume information on the internet. Finally, in line with the spirit of the Varieties of Risk Project, the students discussed how our emotional response to risk, despite often irrational, might be able to indicate us what we care about the most.

These series of lectures were officially acknowledged as part of the high-school's 36 hours of Civic Education, compulsory in every Italian School.

Survey on Risk communication and understanding of avalanche bulletins

Philip Ebert in collaboration with David Comerford (Economics, Stirling) who is a local network member of the Varieties of Risk project in consultation with the Scottish Avalanche Information Services have launched an online survey. The aim of the survey is to gain better understanding of how published avalanche reports and the avalanche service are used and understood by climbers, hillwalkers, skiers and snowboarders engaging in activities in the winter mountains and hills. It also involves questions about the relationship between verbal and numerical probabilities and is directly connected to the themes of our Varieties of Risk project. A link to the survey can be found here (released on March 2nd):

New paper by Claire Field: "Anti-Exceptionalism About Requirements of Epistemic Rationality" (open access)

This paper is about the epistemology of the requirements of rationality, and how there is nothing particularly special about it. This is a departure from a majority of views on the topic. Many other philosophers have thought that there must be something epistemically exceptional about beliefs about what rationality requires. Either the truth about what rationality requires changes depending on your epistemic situation, or false belief about what rationality requires is impossible. I argue here that the truth is much less exciting – beliefs about requirements of rationality behave much like other more ordinary beliefs. Their subject matter does not change depending on you, and sometimes you can be justified in believing falsely about them.


"Varieties of Risk" paper now out in the journal Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

The article "Varieties of Risk" (authored by Philip A. Ebert, Martin Smith, and Ian Durbach) that informed in many ways our application for this #AHRC sponsored research project with the very same title, is now out. It was published in the journal Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 101, Issue 2, p.432-455. The paper was freely available as an open access publication.