Colloquium: The status of risk: an attempt of clarification

This talk intends to show that the question of the status of risk cannot be reduced to the classical opposition between quantified risk and constructed risk. A review of the literature highlights a much more complex picture. The analysis of realistic, representational — with its epistemological variants — and hybrid conceptions of risk, as well as the analysis of the different types of relationships between risk and danger reveal that risk can be conceived as a representational category, which transcends the quantified/constructed opposition. Indeed, the concept of risk integrates a value-laden component as well as a quantified component and can be formalized as R = f (X1, X2, ∑ Xn), where Xi are the different variables that have to be taken into account and n is the number of these variables. One of these dimensions being the quantification of the potential damage, while other dimensions reflect social, psychological, political or moral values.