A BOOK LAUNCH AND CONVERSATION ANNA ALEXANDROVA, GABRIELE BADANO, STEPHEN JOHN, GREG LUSK & CHRISTOPHER NEWFIELD
Why do numbers have so much authority in our lives? Have they unjustly eclipsed narrative, fieldwork, and other forms of qualitative knowledge? How can we put quantitative information back into good relation with all the other modes of understanding?
Limits of the Numerical: The Abuses and Uses of Quantification was co-authored by groups from three universities: the Cambridge team (based at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, CRASSH) worked on the effect of metrics in health care, Chicago studied numbers as they affect the public awareness of climate change, and Santa Barbara analysed metrical warps in higher education.
Book sections discuss the way expert (mis)use of numbers inspired popular revolts against them, whether narratives really can correct numbers, when bad numbers have good social effects, and how social goals can be put back into models that have purged important experiences and democratic agency. The volume sketches elements of a new paradigm for quantitative-qualitative relations, one based on epistemic parity between them.
Co-authors Anna Alexandrova (PI ‘Expertise Under Pressure’, CRASSH; Professor in Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge), Gabriele Badano (Lecturer in Politics, University of York), Stephen John (Hatton Professor in the Philosophy of Public Health, University of Cambridge) and Christopher Newfield (Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Director of Research, ISRF) discussed the book in Cambridge, and were joined by commentators Louise Braddock (Researcher in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis) and Simon Goldhill (Professor of Greek Literature and Culture, University of Cambridge).
This is the eighteenth in the ISRF’s series of Book Launches.