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

Authors
Wendy Parker
Virginia Tech
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.
Keywords climate change  computer simulation  models  pluralism  uncertainty
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DOI 10.1007/s10699-005-3196-x
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References found in this work BETA

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.

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Citations of this work BETA

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.
Values and Uncertainties in Climate Prediction, Revisited.Wendy Parker - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46:24-30.

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