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Confirmation and Robustness of Climate Models

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

Recent philosophical attention to climate models has highlighted their weaknesses and uncertainties. Here I address the ways that models gain support through observational data. I review examples of model fit, variety of evidence, and independent support for aspects of the models, contrasting my analysis with that of other philosophers. I also investigate model robustness, which often emerges when comparing climate models simulating the same time period or set of conditions. Starting from Michael Weisberg's analysis of robustness, I conclude that his approach involves a version of reasoning from variety of evidence, enabling this robustness to be a confirmatory virtue

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

I would like to thank climate researchers Caspar Ammann, William Collins, Jeffrey Kiehl, Doug Nychka, Kevin Trenberth, Tom Wigley, and especially Linda Mearns, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, as well as Richard Somerville, of the Scripps Institute, for their assistance regarding climate models; all mistakes are of course my own. I also thank Kathryn Carter, Stephen Crowley, Brenden Fitelson, Mark Kaplan, Wendy Parker, Michael Weisberg, Sean Valles, and Eric Winsberg for their helpful comments.

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