Is mathematical modelling an instrument of knowledge co-production?

Elisa Vecchione & Zaid Chalabi (2021)

Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Online first.

Abstract. We interrogate mathematical modelling as an instrument of knowledge co-production by concentrating on the classical probabilistic operationalization of decision-making under uncertainty used for informing climate change mitigation options. We construct our co-productive assessment framework by first retrieving criticisms targeted at expected utility theory in relation to its epistemic and ethical limits in dealing with ‘true’ uncertainty. We then reflect on how ethical values should operate in relation to uncertainty in order to live up to the co-production ideal and specifically, to the principle of Responsible Research and Innovation. We thus undertake the perspective of a general modeller and test our reflections by imagining the classical probabilistic space of calculation as a space of negotiation between probabilities, ideas, values and beliefs. We thus propose an alternative ‘public’ space of calculation in which the conditions for co-production are set up on a pragmatic and moral account of rational expectations.

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