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ONLINE: Joseph Mazor (LSE): “Will Your Behavioral Policy Intervention Succeed? The Case for an Intuitive Prediction Methodology”

20 May 2020, 4:30 pm6:00 pm

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Due to the current COVID-19 situation this event will now take place online via Zoom. 

Everyone is welcome to join using a computer with access to the internet and Zoom. To take part just follow these instructions:

Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.

Abstract: Many pressing social problems are the result of undesirable human behavior. People pollute too much, fail to do enough to help the disadvantaged, and ignore government advice during pandemics. The dominant approach to predicting the effectiveness of interventions aimed at changing such behavior is the evidence-based approach. As Cartwright and Hardie describe it, this approach asks the predictor to construct an argument for the effectiveness of an intervention and then to support each premise of the effectiveness argument with evidence – facts about the world.

Unfortunately, the evidence-based approach is highly unreliable in certain cases (e.g., when the proposed intervention is novel, ambitious, complex, and not conducive to small-scale experimentation). Yet we need not resign ourselves to unreliable effectiveness predictions in such cases. We can use intuition grounded in folk psychology (our informal knowledge of others’ behavior) to predict the effectiveness of behavioral policy interventions.

However, relying on untutored intuition alone is problematic. I advocate instead an approach that relies on both intuition and evidence (while also being systematic and explicit about the non-intuitive inputs into the prediction). I argue that this sophisticated intuitive approach to predicting the effectiveness of behavioral policy interventions is more reliable, at least in certain cases, than the evidence-based approach.


Joseph Mazor is a political philosopher with research interests in distributive justice, environmental ethics, bioethics, media ethics, philosophy of economics, and democratic theory. He is currently a visiting academic at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at LSE.


20 May 2020
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Online via Zoom