Please Join Webinar Online @ CWTS, Leiden University on 5th February 2021, 14:00-16:45 CET (8.00-10:45 EST)

Numbers are at the core of the nexus between technoscience, society and the new media. The potential of numbers to inflict harm is on par or superior to those of any other technologies, when we consider both visible and invisible numbers, e.g. the use of artificial intelligence and big data algorithms. And yet, numbers are so deeply entrenched in our existence that we barely reflect on them critically any more.

Following the publication of the Nature commentary last June on ‘Five ways to ensure that models serve society’, which was focused on modelling, we propose a broader discussion on the ethics and politics of quantification. How can we develop frameworks for observation, critique and improvement of the social uses of quantification? (See WP:


Chair: Ismael Rafols (CWTS, Leiden Univ.)

14:00 Presentations

Andrea Saltelli (Open Evidence, Open Univ. Catalonia (UOC)):

Do we need an ethics of quantification?

Wendy Espeland (Dept. Sociology, Northwestern Univ.):

Why numbers that make up people and mediate their interests require an ethics

Andy Stirling (SPRU, Univ. Sussex):

From ethics of quantities to politics of qualities: mitigating power-driven closures

15:30 Break

15:45 Discussion

Comments to presentations followed by open discussion.


Gaby Umbach (Global Stat, European Univ. Institute)

Sarah De Rijcke (CWTS, Leiden Univ.)

Niels Mejlgaard (Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Aarhus Univ.)

Wolfgang Drechsler (Nurkse Dept. Innov. & Gov., Tallin Tech, & IPP, UCL)

16:45 Closing