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Three ways in which pandemic models may perform a pandemic

van Basshuysen, Philippe, White, Lucie, Khosrowi, Donal and Frisch, Mathias (2021) Three ways in which pandemic models may perform a pandemic. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 14 (1). 110 - 127. ISSN 1876-9098

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Identification Number: 10.23941/ejpe.v14i1.582

Abstract

Models not only represent but may also influence their targets in important ways. While models’ abilities to influence outcomes has been studied in the context of economic models, often under the label ‘performativity’, we argue that this phenomenon also pertains to epidemiological models, such as those used for forecasting the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic. After identifying three ways in which a model by the Covid-19 Response Team at Imperial College London (Ferguson et al. 2020) may have influenced scientific advice, policy, and individual responses, we consider the implications of epidemiological models’ performative capacities. We argue, first, that performativity may impair models’ ability to successfully predict the course of an epidemic; but second, that it may provide an additional sense in which these models can be successful, namely by changing the course of an epidemic.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://ejpe.org/journal/index
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
JEL classification: B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B4 - Economic Methodology > B40 - General
C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods > C6 - Mathematical Methods and Programming > C63 - Computational Techniques
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I12 - Health Production: Nutrition, Mortality, Morbidity, Suicide, Substance Abuse and Addiction, Disability, and Economic Behavior
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I18 - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2021 10:30
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:22
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/110996

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