Lucie White
Utrecht University
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 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.
Keywords COVID-19  epidemiological models  performativity  economic models  prediction  success  model evaluation  public health  public policy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.23941/ejpe.v14i1.582
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Science in a Democratic Society.Philip Kitcher - 2011 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 101:95-112.
Were Lockdowns Justified? A Return to the Facts and Evidence.Philippe van Basshuysen & Lucie White - 2021 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 31 (4):405-428.
Science and Policy in Extremis: The UK’s Initial Response to COVID-19.Jonathan Birch - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):90.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Epistemic Duties of Philosophers: An Addendum.Philippe van Basshuysen & Lucie White - 2021 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 31 (4):447-451.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
281 ( #38,021 of 2,505,224 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
81 ( #9,603 of 2,505,224 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes