Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2016


Selfish utilitarianism, neo-classical economics, the directive of short-term income maximization, and the decision tool of cost-benefit analysis fail to protect our species from the significant risks of too much consumption, pollution, or population. For a longer-term survival, humanity needs to employ more than cost-justified precaution.

This article argues that, at the global level, and by extension at all levels of government, we need to replace neo-classical economics with filters for safety and feasibility to regulate against significant risk. For significant risks, especially those that are irreversible, we need decision tools that will protect humanity at all scales. This article describes both standards, their operations, and their interoperability. Further, it defends feasible risk reduction as an effective decision and regulatory tool.


Law & economics, administrative law, environmental law, cost-benefit analysis, CBA, neo-classical economics, selfishness, significant risk, foreseeability, irreversibility, moral law, morality, precautionary principle

Publication Citation

33 Pace Envtl L. Rev. 157 (2016).