Philosophy and Climate Science Conference 2

9 June 2012

This will be the second conference in a series on philosophical issues in climate science. It will follow on from the previous conference organised by Richard Pettigrew in the IAS in May 2011. The first conference dealt with the epistemology of climate science.

This second conference will be a one-day event held in the Faculty of Arts. It will focus on the ontology of models in climate science. It will be an interdisciplinary event, collaborating with researchers in geographical sciences (including flood modellers, palaeoclimate modellers, and sea ice modellers) and other interested parties whose research falls under the auspices of the Cabot Institute.

We will invite contributed papers from postgraduate students. There will be a keynote talk by Roman Frigg, a philosopher from the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE, who is a leading expert on the ontological status of models.

We will address the following questions at the conference:

  • Are computer simulations really models?
  • Are climate models unique in a philosophically interesting way?
  • What can climate models tell us about the ontology of scientific models?
  • What is the ontological status of complex climate models?
  • How do we characterize pluralism in climate modelling?
  • Should we be realist or instrumentalist about models of the climate?
  • Does approximate truth imply empirical adequacy?

The aim of the conference is to merge together approaches and thoughts from the Philosophy department and the Geographical Sciences and other members of the Cabot Institute on the subject area of ontology in climate change.

It will provide insight into the ontological questions in climate modelling and the philosophy of scientific modelling more generally. Climate science provides philosophers with an exciting new case study that can inform their work on scientific models. There is hope to publish papers resulting from conference reflecting the problems touched upon, perhaps a special edition of a journal.