Computer Modeling in Climate Science: Experiment, Explanation, Pluralism

Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh (2003)

Authors
Wendy Parker
Virginia Tech
Abstract
Computer simulation modeling is an important part of contemporary scientific practice but has not yet received much attention from philosophers. The present project helps to fill this lacuna in the philosophical literature by addressing three questions that arise in the context of computer simulation of Earth's climate. Computer simulation experimentation commonly is viewed as a suspect methodology, in contrast to the trusted mainstay of material experimentation. Are the results of computer simulation experiments somehow deeply problematic in ways that the results of material experiments are not? I argue against categorical skepticism toward the results of computer simulation experiments by revealing important parallels in the epistemologies of material and computer simulation experimentation. It has often been remarked that simple computer simulation models---but not complex ones---contribute substantially to our understanding of the atmosphere and climate system. Is this view of the relative contributions of simple and complex models tenable? I show that both simple and complex climate models can promote scientific understanding and argue that the apparent contribution of simple models depends upon whether a causal or deductive account of scientific understanding is adopted. When two incompatible scientific theories are under consideration, they typically are viewed as competitors, and we seek evidence that refutes at least one of the theories. In the study of climate change, however, logically incompatible computer simulation models are accepted as complementary resources for investigating future climate. How can we make sense of this use of incompatible models? I show that a collection of incompatible climate models persists in part because of difficulties faced in evaluating and comparing climate models. I then discuss the rationale for using these incompatible models together and argue that this climate model pluralism has both competitive and integrative components
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 58,518
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Understanding Pluralism in Climate Modeling.Wendy Parker - 2006 - Foundations of Science 11 (4):349-368.
The Hermeneutics of Ecological Simulation.Steven L. Peck - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (3):383-402.
Virtual Models and Simulations.Peter Krebs - 2007 - Techne 11 (1):42-54.
A Practical Philosophy of Complex Climate Modelling.Gavin A. Schmidt & Steven Sherwood - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (2):149-169.
Layers of Models in Computer Simulations.Thomas Boyer-Kassem - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (4):417-436.
Agent-Based Models as Fictive Instantiations of Ecological Processes.Steven L. Peck - 2012 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 4 (20130604).
Computer Simulation in the Physical Sciences.Fritz Rohrlich - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:507-518.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-02-05

Total views
1 ( #1,468,721 of 2,421,653 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #545,272 of 2,421,653 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes