Research Repository

Uncertainty, Ignorance and Decision-making: Looking through the Lens of Modelling the Covid-19 Pandemic

Xu, Ting (2021) 'Uncertainty, Ignorance and Decision-making: Looking through the Lens of Modelling the Covid-19 Pandemic.' Amicus Curiae, 3 (1). pp. 10-32.

5350-Article Text-9431-1-10-20211027.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (311kB) | Preview


A great deal of decision-making during crises is about coping with uncertainty. For rulemakers, this poses a fundamental challenge, as there has been a lack of a rigorous framework for understanding and analysing the nature and function of uncertainty in the context of rulemaking. In coping with crises, modelling has become a governance tool to navigate and tame uncertainty and justify decisions. This is because models, in particular mathematical models, can be useful to produce precise answers in numbers. This article examines the challenges rulemakers are facing in an uncertain world and argues that one of the most important challenges lies in rulemakers’ failures to understand the nature of uncertainty and ignorance in the contested arena of science for decision-making. It focuses on the relationship between uncertainty, ignorance and decisionmaking through a case study of the interaction between modelling and rulemaking in the Covid-19 pandemic. In so doing, this article provides an alternative strategy to number- and model-based rulemaking in an uncertain world. It provokes a rethinking of using science to measure and govern human affairs and the impact of numbers and quantification on law.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: uncertainty; ignorance; decision-making; rulemaking; models; mathematical modelling; quantification; Covid-19
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2021 09:53
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:32

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item