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When Climate Models Agree: The Significance of Robust Model Predictions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


This article identifies conditions under which robust predictive modeling results have special epistemic significance—related to truth, confidence, and security—and considers whether those conditions hold in the context of present-day climate modeling. The findings are disappointing. When today’s climate models agree that an interesting hypothesis about future climate change is true, it cannot be inferred—via the arguments considered here anyway—that the hypothesis is likely to be true or that scientists’ confidence in the hypothesis should be significantly increased or that a claim to have evidence for the hypothesis is now more secure.

Research Article
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Sincere thanks to Dan Steel, Reto Knutti, Kent Staley, Phil Ehrlich, Lenny Smith, Joel Katzav, Charlotte Werndl, and two anonymous referees for helpful suggestions and criticisms. Thanks also to those who provided feedback when earlier versions of this article were presented at Purdue University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo.


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