The Event: An Underexamined Risk Concept

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Abstract

Some of the terms used in risk assessment and management are poorly and even contradictorily defined. One such term is “event,” which arguably describes the most basic of all risk-related concepts. The author cites two contemporary textbook interpretations of “event” that he contends are incorrect and misleading. He then examines the concept of an event in A. N. Kolmogorov's probability axioms and in several more-current textbooks. Those concepts are found to be too narrow for risk assessments and inconsistent with the actual usage of “event” by risk analysts. The author goes on to define and advocate linguistic definitions of events (as opposed to mathematical definitions)—definitions constructed from natural language. He argues that they should be recognized for what they are: the de facto primary method of defining events.

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