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Durham University

Knowledge for Use (K4U)

K4U Events

Future events

For further information, please contact us at

Workshop: Adequacy for Purpose

1st May 2019, 13:00 to 18:15, Senate Suite, University College
Models are ubiquitous in science today. They are used both in basic research and in a variety of applied settings. How should the task of model evaluation be conceptualized and approached? Models typically differ from scientific theories, insofar as some of their assumptions are known from the outset to be false; consequently, some traditional perspectives on theory evaluation – asking how well a theory is confirmed, for example – are not well suited to the context of model evaluation. Increasingly, both philosophers and practitioners are instead framing model evaluation as a task that seeks to determine the adequacy or fitness of models for particular purposes. What are the implications of this shift in focus for model evaluation in practice? What challenges arise when evaluating a model’s adequacy-for-purpose? These and other questions will be explored in this workshop.


Dr Wendy Parker (Durham University)

Model evaluation: An adequacy-for-purpose view

According to an adequacy-for-purpose view, models should be assessed with respect to their adequacy (or fitness) for particular purposes. Such a view has been advocated by scientists and philosophers alike. Important details, however, have yet to be spelled out. I attempt to make progress by addressing three questions. What does it mean for a model to be adequate-for-purpose? What makes a model adequate or fit-for-purpose? How does the shift to evaluating model adequacy (rather than model truth or representational accuracy) make a difference in practice?

Paul Glover (Principal Analyst, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)

Fitness for purpose: A practitioner’s view on the concept of Adequacy in Analysis (joint paper with Paul Pearce, Senior Principal Analyst, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)

Defence is seeking to establish agile collaborative working as the new norm in its approach to analytical challenges. Most of the systems being studied are complex adaptive in nature, with key socio-technical elements, requiring counter-factual analysis of emergent situations. In order to rapidly assess the ‘fitness for purpose’ of analytical perspectives we use a number of ‘lenses’ to help us to reflect on the available evidence. These ‘lenses’ seek to assess the RIGOUR of the work conducted through considering it in the light of a Critical Realist perspective, the Post-Modernist critique, Indicators of Reliability and the Evidence Framework Approach. The application of these means shall be illustrated through two examples. This method enables the issues identified by the Chilcot inquiry to be addressed, when compiling key information for decision makers. We end by presenting the current iteration of the Evidence Framework Approach.

Joe Roussos (London School of Economics)

Making confident decisions with model ensembles (joint paper with Prof Roman Frigg, LSE)

Increasingly many policy decisions take input from collections of scientific models. Such decisions face significant and often poorly understood uncertainty. We rework a recently developed theory of decision-making under severe uncertainty—called the “confidence approach”—to tackle decision-making with multiple models, showing how it can be used to construct nested sets of predictions of increasing specificity. We discuss the conditions under which particular sets are available to decision-makers. We illustrate the approach with a case study: an insurance pricing decision using hurricane models. The confidence approach has important consequences for this case and offers a powerful framework for a wide class of problems. We end with a consideration of different methods for nested set construction, appropriate to different collections of models.

Prof Mark von Rosing (Global University Alliance)

An adequacy-for-purpose view on: What factors influence or determine the content
of different enterprise models?

Enterprise models are simply put (from an enterprise modeller and architect perspective), an artefact
used for documentation purposes. This can be a strategy map, a process model or a data sequence diagram. The key idea of any enterprise model is that it is a graphical representation, an illustration, of a composition of information intended to represent, a specific aspect of an enterprise e.g. business, application and/or technology. This is also where an adequacy-for-purpose view is relevant. When is the content i.e. objects and relations and view of the model sufficient for the purpose concerned (and when not). Which enterprise modelling concepts are not fit for purpose. Meaning they are not in a state of sufficiency. Which scientific approach can be used within enterprise modelling to identify the ideal state of artefacts and even how they cross relate.

All welcome and refreshments provided – please contact the Centre Administrator at to confirm attendance

Contact for more information about this event.

11 October 2019, K4U Values Workshop, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop on 'Values'

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Joint Event with Michela Massimi. Collaboration meeting with ERC Consolidator Grant: "Perspectival Realism. Science, knowledge and truth from a human vantage point, Edinburgh, UK

Past Events

15-16 July 2019, CHESS/K4U/BSPS Conference: Reviving Instrumentalism in Philosophy of Science, Durham, UK

Two day conference entitled 'Reviving Instrumentalism in Philosophy of Science’. Supported by: The Department of Philosophy (Durham University); The British Society for Philosophy of Science (BSPS); The Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) and the Knowledge for Use (K4U) project.

14-15 June 2019, Conference in Memory of David Marcus Knight, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U/SHAC (Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry) Conference

30 May 2019, Philosophy of Statistics Workshop, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: Speakers: Prof David Hendry (University of Oxford); 'Robust Model Selection' (joint paper with Jennifer L. Castle and Jurgen A. Doornik

10 May 2019, Evidence Amalgamation Workshop, University College, Cork, Ireland

UCC/K4U Workshop: 'Evidence Amalgamation'

1 May 2019, Workshop 'Adequacy for Purpose', Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: 'Adequacy for Purpose', Speakers: Wendy Parker (Durham), Paul Pearce (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), Joe Roussos (LSE), Mark von Rosing (Global University Alliance).

21 March 2019, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: 'Science Policy and Political Science', visiting speakers: Prof Sharon Crasnow (Norco College) and Dr Inkeri Koskinen (University of Helsinki).

27-29 November 2018, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice, Italy

K4U Conference: 'Understanding the Underlying Structure'.

20 November 2018, Manchester, UK

K4U Presentation to the 'Working Well Programme', Greater Manchester Health and Employment Board - 'Mental Health in the EU' Case Study

8 November 2018 - Durham, UK

CHESS Seminar Series: 'The analysis of presence and absence, or the reality of absence, in the use of fuzzy sets and Qualitative Comparative Analysis', visiting speaker: Prof. Wendy Olsen, (University of Manchester).

6 November 2018, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Evidence based case studies', Jeremy Clarke and visiting speaker: Bill Styles.

26 October 2018, LSE, London, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Changing the structures - and changing them well', visiting speaker: Eimir Hurley (Trinity College Dublin).

27 July 2018, Manchester, UK

Mental Health in the EU, Case Study Report presentation to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

27 June 2018, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

K4U Workshop on 'Deliberation', visiting speakers: James Copestake (University of Bath) and Alfred Moore (University of York).

15 May 2018, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series: 'Thinking Ecologically about Policy and Structure', Workshop 2: 'Two approached to mapping social structure? (Systems theory; Ecology)', Nancy Cartwright and Hakan Seckinelgin.

15 November 2017, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Seminar: 'Self-Interest, Design and Policy-Making', visiting speaker: Fernando Morrett (London School of Economics).

31 October 2017, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series: 'Thinking Ecologically about Policy and Structure', Workshop 1: 'Learning how to affect change in stable structures', Nancy Cartwright and Hakan Seckinelgin.

30 October 2017, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College, London, UK

Mental Health and Justice Seminar, 'Objectivity and Evidence', Nancy Cartwright, Jeremy Clarke and Andrew Fletcher.

15 June 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Social Sciences & Randomised Controlled Trials', organiser: Hakan Seckinelgin, visiting speaker: Dr. Tamara Giles-Vernick (Pasteur Institute, Paris)

14 June 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Full team meeting.

22 May 2017, London, UK

Improving Child Safety Book Release, organised by Prof. Eileen Munro.

10 May 2017, Durham, UK

Improving Child Safety Book Release, organised by Prof. Nancy Cartwright.

8 May 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Judgement and Deliberation', organised by Dr. Katherine Furman, visiting speakers: Christian List (LSE); Anouk Rigterink (Oxford); Tony Holland (Cambridge); Elizabeth Fistein (Cambridge); Wayne Martin (University of Essex).

17 March 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Seminar: 'Single Case Reseach Design in Pschotherapy', organised by Jeremy Clarke and Katherine Furman, visiting speaker: Bruce Wampold (University of Wisconsin).

8 March 2017, Durham, UK

K4U Interdisciplinarity Workshop: 'Bringing the Disciplines Together at the Point of Action', organised by Julian Reiss, visiting speaker: Prof. Michael O'Rourke (Michigan State University).

7 March 2017, Durham, UK

Meeting with Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland, 'Everyone Has a Story', organised by Prof. Linda McKie.

25-26 October 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Project Annual Conference -- meeting of full team.

3 June 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop Series: 'Talking Therapies', Workshop 2: 'What should an evidence-based pathway for improving work and wellbeing look like to the people who are on it?', organised by Jeremy Clarke, visiting speaker: Prof. Robert Elliott (University of Strathclyde)

26 May 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop, 'Context Matters: Understanding How the System Works', organised by Nancy Cartwright, visiting speaker: Prof. Sandra Mitchell (University of Pittsburgh).

12 May 2016, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Seminar: 'Will the Chilcot report tell the full stort about the British military intervention in Iraq?', visiting speaker: Marie-Hélène Labbé (International Institute for Strategic Studies).

11 May 2016, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: 'Utilitarianism and Medicine: Past and Present Perspective', visiting speaker: Cathy Gere (University of California, San Diego).

10 May 2016, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series (IAS Theme 2015/16: Evidence): 'Evidence Synthesis by Building a Case', Workshop 3: 'What will work in my school? What does evidence say?'

3 May 2016, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series (IAS Theme 2015/16: Evidence): 'Evidence Synthesis by Building a Case', Workshop 2: 'Amalgamation and the Principle of Total Evidence'

27 April 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop Series: 'Talking Therapies', Workshop 1: 'What evidence works best for which NICE therapy?', organised by Jeremy Clarke, visiting speaker: Prof. Robert Elliott (University of Strathclyde)

16 February 2016, LSE, London, UK

K4U Full team meeting.

10 December 2015, London, UK

K4U Full team meeting.

10 November 2015, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series (IAS Theme 2015/16: Evidence): 'Evidence Synthesis by Building a Case', Workshop 1: 'Evidence Amalgamation: Weighing the Evidence v Building a Case'