We will be scheduling a diverse and comprehensive program of seminars and topic-specific courses in the near future.

Inaugural Lecture S3W Doctoral Programme - Prof. Andrea Saltelli, "Models: a state of exception"
Tuesday, 12 December 2023, 3.30pm
Room D4/1.12, Building D4, Social Sciences Campus
Via delle Pandette, 50127 Florence

Models live in a state of exception. Their versatility, the variety of methods, the impossibility of their falsification and their epistemic authority permit mathematical models to escape, better than other instances of quantification, the lenses of sociology and other humanistic disciplines.  This endows models with a pretence of neutrality that perpetuates the asymmetry between developers and users. Models are thus underexplored and overinterpreted. While retaining a firm grip on policy, they reinforce entrenched cultures of transforming political issues into technical ones.
To combat this state of exception one should start discussing the reproducibility of models, foster complexity of interpretation rather than complexity of construction, and encourage forms of activism following the French statactivists, aimed to achieve a reciprocal domestication between models and society. To breach the solitude of modellers, more actors should engage in practices such as assumption hunting / modelling of the modelling process / sensitivity analysis and auditing.

Reading Material:
Saltelli, Andrea, and Monica Di Fiore, eds. 2023. The Politics of Modelling. Numbers between Science and Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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