Representing Uncertainty in Global Climate Change Science and Policy: Boundary-Ordering Devices and Authority

Science, Technology and Human Values 21 (3):275-302 (1996)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This article argues that, in public and policy contexts, the ways in which many scientists talk about uncertainty in simulations of future climate change not only facilitates communications and cooperation between scientific and policy communities but also affects the perceived authority of science. Uncertainty tends to challenge the authority of chmate science, especially if it is used for policy making, but the relationship between authority and uncertainty is not simply an inverse one. In policy contexts, many scientists are compelled to talk about uncertainty but do not wish to imply that uncertainty is a serious challenge to the authority of scientific knowledge or to its substantial use in policy making. "Boundary-ordering devices, " the contextual discursive attempts to reconcile uncertainty and authority in science, depend critically for their success on their "dual" interpretation: at a general level across a boundary and differently on either side of it. The authors empirically identify a range of such boundary-ordering devices in the climate field.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,507

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

Climate Projections and Uncertainty Communication.Susan L. Joslyn & Jared E. LeClerc - 2016 - Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):222-241.
Uncertainty in Climate Science and Climate Policy.Jonathan Rougier & Michel Crucifix - 2018 - In Elisabeth A. Lloyd & Eric Winsberg (eds.), Climate Modelling: Philosophical and Conceptual Issues. Springer Verlag. pp. 361-380.
Climate Simulations: Uncertain Projections for an Uncertain World.Rafaela Hillerbrand - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):17-32.
Scientific Uncertainty: A User's Guide.Seamus Bradley - 2012 - Grantham Institute on Climate Change Discussion Paper.
The Irrelevance of the Risk-Uncertainty Distinction.Dominic Roser - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (5):1387-1407.
Model uncertainty and policy choice: A plea for integrated subjectivism.Alistair M. C. Isaac - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 47:42-50.
Uncertainty: how it makes science advance.Kostas Kampourakis & Kevin McCain - 2019 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Kevin McCain.
Underdetermination, Model-ensembles and Surprises: On the Epistemology of Scenario-analysis in Climatology.Gregor Betz - 2009 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (1):3-21.


Added to PP

10 (#986,441)

6 months
3 (#341,717)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Boundary Organizations in Environmental Policy and Science: An Introduction.David H. Guston - 2001 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 26 (4):399-408.
Indeterminacy and impotence.Benjamin Hale - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-24.
Strange Weather, Again.Brian Wynne - 2010 - Theory, Culture and Society 27 (2-3):289-305.
Connections between simulations and observation in climate computer modeling. Scientist’s practices and “bottom-up epistemology” lessons.Hélène Guillemot - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (3):242-252.
Balancing Uncertain Risks and Benefits in Human Subjects Research.Richard Barke - 2009 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 34 (3):337-364.

View all 30 citations / Add more citations