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Accepted Paper:

Misunderstandings in modeling for policy. discussing how STS- and PT-approaches can be fruitfully combined  
Andreas Brenneis (Technical University of Darmstadt) Jörn Wiengarn (TU Darmstadt) Arthur Wei-Kang Liu (Technical University of Darmstadt) Viet Anh Nguyen Duc (TU Darmstadt)

Short abstract:

We will explore misunderstanding as a concept that merges descriptive and normative elements situated at the intersection of typical approaches in STS and PT. This will be illustrated through examples from the field of modeling for policy, where misunderstandings of models are a key phenomenon.

Long abstract:

In our paper, we explore the notion of misunderstanding as a concept that merges descriptive as well as normative elements. This makes it a prime concept to discuss how typical STS- and PT-approaches can be fruitfully combined.

We would like to discuss this using case studies from the field of modeling for policy (MfP), specifically the use of climate models and models to predict ICU capacities. MfP operates at the crossroads of scientific domains (providing theoretical frameworks and data), information technology (providing hardware and models) and politics. This makes it a rich field for both STS and PT inquiry addressing various questions ranging from how to describe models to how they can be evaluated epistemically and politically.

The involvement of diverse stakeholders raises the potential for misunderstandings. Here, we will limit our discussion to the various ways in which political actors can typically misunderstand models due to comprehension barriers that models themselves produce. For example, models tend to obscure underlying abstraction decisions, the influence of (non-epistemic) values, and epistemic uncertainties.

Such instances of misunderstanding play a central role in MfP. Thus, to describe and investigate a key phenomenon of MfP, the notion of misunderstanding seems indispensable. This notion, however, presupposes a normative understanding of what it actually means to adequately understand a model. Thus, the topic serves as a prime example of how the empirical description and investigation of a sociotechnical phenomenon demands guiding normative background conceptions for proper investigation.

Traditional Open Panel P250
Understanding and interpreting technology in STS and Philosophy of Technology
  Session 2 Friday 19 July, 2024, -