Dimensions of the Precautionary Principle
This essay attempts to provide an analytical apparatus which may be used for finding an authoritative formulation 1 of the Precautionary Principle. Several formulations of the Precautionary Principle are examined. Four dimensions of the principle are identified: (1) the threat dimension, (2) the uncertainty dimension, (3) the action dimension, and (4) the command dimension. It is argued that the Precautionary Principle can be recast into the following if-clause, containing these four dimensions: “If there is (1) a threat, which is (2) uncertain, then (3) some kind of action (4) is mandatory.” The phrases expressing these dimensions may vary in (a) precision and (b) strength. It is shown that it is the dimension containing the weakest phrase that determines the strength of the entire principle. It is suggested that the four-dimensional if-clause be used as an analytical apparatus in negotiations of the Precautionary Principle.