Understanding pluralism in climate modeling

Foundations of Science 11 (4):349-368 (2006)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

To study Earth’s climate, scientists now use a variety of computer simulation models. These models disagree in some of their assumptions about the climate system, yet they are used together as complementary resources for investigating future climatic change. This paper examines and defends this use of incompatible models. I argue that climate model pluralism results both from uncertainty concerning how to best represent the climate system and from difficulties faced in evaluating the relative merits of complex models. I describe how incompatible climate models are used together in ‘multi-model ensembles’ and explain why this practice is reasonable, given scientists’ inability to identify a ‘best’ model for predicting future climate. Finally, I characterize climate model pluralism as involving both an ontic competitive pluralism and a pragmatic integrative pluralism.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,446

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

T. C. Chamberlin, climate change, and cosmogony.R. J. - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (3):293-308.
Varieties of support and confirmation of climate models.Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 2009 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 83 (1):213-232.
Confirmation and Robustness of Climate Models.Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (5):971–984.
What do numerical (climate) models really represent?Gabriele Gramelsberger - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):296-302.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
173 (#101,068)

6 months
6 (#197,500)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Wendy Parker
Virginia Tech

Citations of this work

Data models, representation and adequacy-for-purpose.Alisa Bokulich & Wendy Parker - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
Holism, entrenchment, and the future of climate model pluralism.Johannes Lenhard & Eric Winsberg - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (3):253-262.
Model robustness as a confirmatory virtue: The case of climate science.Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 49:58-68.

View all 59 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Integrative pluralism.Sandra D. Mitchell - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):55-70.
Modelling Extended Extragalactic Radio Sources.Daniela M. Bailer-Jones - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (1):49-74.
Modelling Extended Extragalactic Radio Sources.Daniela M. Bailer-Jones - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (1):49-74.

Add more references