Authors
Finnur Dellsén
University of Iceland
Abstract
Around 97% of climate scientists endorse anthropogenic global warming (AGW), the theory that human activities are partly responsible for recent increases in global average temperatures. Clearly, this widespread endorsement of AGW is a reason for non-experts to believe in AGW. But what is the epistemic significance of the fact that some climate scientists do not endorse AGW? This paper contrasts expert unanimity, in which virtually no expert disagrees with some theory, with expert consensus, in which some non-negligible proportion either rejects or is uncertain about the theory. It is argued that, from a layperson’s point of view, an expert consensus is often stronger evidence for a theory’s truth than unanimity. Several lessons are drawn from this conclusion, e.g. concerning what laypeople should infer from expert pronouncements, how journalists should report on scientific theories, and how working scientists should communicate with the public.
Keywords consensus  unanimity  dissent  expertise  science communication
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Reflection and Disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.
Three Kinds of Idealization.Michael Weisberg - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (12):639-659.

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