Epistemic and ethical trade-offs in decision analytical modelling

M. Vezér, A. Bakker, K. Keller, and N. Tuana

Climatic Change (28 December 2017)

DOI: 10.1007/s10584-017-2123-9

Designing decision analytical models requires making choices that can involve a range of trade-offs and interactions between epistemic and ethical considerations. Such choices include determining the complexity of a model and deciding what types of risk will be assessed. Here, we demonstrate how model design choices can involve trade-offs between the epistemic benefits of representational completeness and simplicity, which interact with ethical considerations about fairness and human life. We illustrate this point by focusing on modeling studies that assess flood risks in New Orleans, Louisiana. Addressing the ethical and epistemic implications of model design choices can help clarify the scope of factors necessary to inform ethically sound and economically efficient decision-making.

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