Decision making under Keynesian and Knightian uncertainty: A centennial celebration of two seminal works, Keynes (1921) and Knight (1921).

The main theme of this year’s conference on Decision Economics (DECON 2021) is inspired by and dedicated to two seminal works published by John M. Keynes (1883-1946) and Frank H. Knight (1885-1972) both in 1921, which continue to be of essential reference to this day in research on topics ranging from social to cognitive sciences as well as from philosophy to mathematics, statistics, and the whole quantitative-oriented research. The centennial celebration of Keynes’s A Treatise on Probability and Knight’s Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit deals with issues of decision making in an environment inherently fraught with risk, uncertainty, ambiguity, and vagueness; it aims to map critically the dualism generated in the common sense of economics by the risk-uncertainty distinction on the one hand, and the uncertainty vs decision-making on the other.

With uncertainty being central to human societies and playing a key evolutionary role in human social behaviour, it comes with no surprise that virtually every corner of social and cognitive science has sought to understand what uncertainty is, when and why it emerges, and how it influences economic behaviour, and much else besides. To be more specific, DECON 2021 intends to address how the above issues are understood and addressed by multifarious approaches among different disciplines and how these understandings have been manifested into established or novel routines, designs, methodologies, nudges, models, techniques, and analyses in a way that practical problems can be solved or managed.

In the light of the foregoing, a closer reading of the two celebrated seminal works reveals a host of insights beyond the above dualism, many of which foreshadow revolutionary advances in cognitive decision theory and theories of norms in the social science accounts. Not surprisingly, some of these insights characterised by high complexity—due to the multiple perspectives—have helped usher in fundamental debates and developments with great epistemological relevance, methodological ramifications, theoretical discoveries, analytical implications, practical issues, logical and detailed analytical interpretations, and philosophical arguments. See the Topics section of the Call.


The centenary celebration of both of Knight’s and Keynes’s seminal works—and the great minds behind them—represents an opportunity in a class by itself to reassess and refine their impact and significance to Decision Economics as a novel discipline emerged in the last lustrum. Indeed, Keynes and Knight emphasised the importance of devising models for ambiguity/uncertainty and nondeterministic processes (i.e., unknown probabilities). Therefore, just as uncertainty is basically ubiquitous in economic decisions and everyday life, so too DECON 2021 suggests covering a wide range of topics to advance this intrinsic ubiquity. They may include, but not be limited to:

  • Alternative assumptions and contingent solutions about risk and uncertainty and how they may drive future research progress;
  • Normative and positive consequences of conjectures, expectations, and interpretations based on the reduction of uncertainty to risk;
  • Developments in modelling preferences and attitudes to risk and uncertainty;
  • Risky choice behaviour and decision paradoxes in designing new and increasingly complex derivative assets;
  • Thrusting uncertainty onto businesses and consumers: Fuzzy modelling, financial risk, and delaying investment and spending;
  • Does the financial sector produce an actual service to facilitate the real economy or is it a standalone uncertain commodity?
  • Considering the consequences of reducing uncertainty rather than the effects of providing specific information especially when prior probabilities are biased;
  • Progressive change in theories of decision-making under risk and uncertainty, e.g., about economic agents’ characteristics;
  • Impact of data, information, and knowledge in raising the credibility of conditional statements and subjective probabilities;
  • Consequences of decreasing the quality of the information available to economic agents and, more generally, to individuals;
  • Developing mathematical models for uncertainty, applying them to real data, and learning about the underlying processes which give rise to the data;
  • Probability spaces as models for uncertainty, and introduction to the corresponding mathematical and quantum analysis;
  • The so-called Great Recession, just as if nothing was going to happen again: The terminal crisis of the hegemonic paradigm in economics and sciences related to economic principles;
  • Uncertainty, risk, and the financial crisis started in 2007-2008: The failure of risk-management models;
  • Natural disaster, pandemics, and risk-sharing behaviour: Evidence from and impact of COVID-19 outbreak;
  • The role of value uncertainty in the divergence between measures of willingness to pay and willingness to accept in the time of pandemics;
  • Uncertainty in data and science news stories affecting the public assessment of risk and uncertainty;
  • Audience uncertainty and risk perceptions around the pandemic: Physical and mental health vs economic and financial health;
  • The role of institutions and regulation for managing society’s economic and health risks;
  • Reference to canonical as well as contemporary authors drawn from a diverse range of scientific literature on and around the subjects above.

These and related questions will be addressed within DECON 2021 by discussing together the relevant contributions and debates in the field. The conference will open by focusing on the lifetime contribution of the late Prof Paul P. Wang (1936-2021), the founder of the international journal New Mathematics and Natural Computation, especially his contribution on the mathematics of uncertainty and natural language, fuzzy mathematics, and computing with words. While through an engineering route, Prof Wang found his way to recognise the critical role of natural language and narratives in handling uncertainty. Much earlier before the advent of the era of digital humanities and what Robert J. Shiller coined as narrative economics, he had already pioneered the research on computing with words and attempted to pave a narrative framework to coping with radical or fundamental uncertainty. His vision and legacy may, therefore, provide us with further insights when we reread and ruminate over Knight (1921) and Keynes (1921) on this centenary event.



The authors of all submitted papers are required to format their work according to the AISC template, with a maximun lenght of 10 pages (minimum 4 pages) including figures, tables, and references.

All proposed papers must be submitted in electronic form (PDF format) using DECON's conference management system.

Review process

DECON welcomes submissions with a preference for topics listed in the Call for Papers. All submitted papers will undergo a rigorous peer review process; each paper will be referred by at least three experts in the field, and be selected based on originality, quality, soundness, and relevance.


All accepted papers will be included in a special book published by Computational Intelligence and Complexity AISC SERIES of Springer-Nature. However, the author (or at least one of the authors in case of papers co-authored) will be required to register and attend the conference (choosing whether to attend on site or online/remotely) to present her paper. Failure to comply will result in exclusion from the conference and the special book.

** Indexing: The books of this series are submitted to SCOPUSGoogle Scholar and Springerlink **, EI-Compendex, ISI, DBLP.

Special Issue of New Mathematics and Natural Computation

All authors of papers accepted and presented at DECON 2021 will have opportunity to submit an extended version for consideration in a special issue of the journal New Mathematics and Natural Computation (ISSN print: 1793-0057; ISSN online: 1793-7027) following the instructions that will be communicated later on.

Important dates

  • General deadline: 31st May 2021 15th June 2021
  • Notification of acceptance: 19th June 2021 23th July 2021
  • Camera-Ready papers: 27th August 2021 16th September 2021
  • Conference Celebration: 6th-8th October 2021


Chairmen of the Steering and Organising Committee

  • Edgardo Bucciarelli - University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy)
  • Shu-Heng Chen - National Chengchi University, Taipei (Taiwan)
  • Juan Manuel Corchado - University of Salamanca (Spain)
  • Javier Parra - University of Salamanca (Spain)