Philosophy of Climate Science

Philosophy of Climate Science has become a relevant research field within the philosophy of science in recent years. Potential research questions are:

Epistemic and methodological questions

  • What is the epistemic significance of understanding in and for climate science?
  • What are the epistemic strengths and limitations of climate modelling?
  • How can research yielding different outputs like predictions, understanding, and explanations fruitfully inform each other, what are their epistemic strengths, what their limits?
  • What different epistemic goals, (like accuracy, empirical adequacy, predictive success, explanatory power, fruitfulness) can climate research have? How may these goals interact?

Ethics and Climate Justice meet Climate Science

  • Which responsibilities does climate science have as an informant to society at large and marginalized communities specifically?
  • Which responsibilities does climate science have regarding environmental outcomes for future generations and the natural world?
  • Which responsibilities does climate science have to cooperate with and learn from local (especially indigenous) communities’ insights into local effects of climate change?

Values in Climate Science

  • What epistemic obligations (in, e.g., choice of evidential standards, research topics, research method, data collection, various choices in modelling) follow from ethical obligations climate science has vis-à-vis humanity and the planet?
  • What lessons can be drawn from feminist, non-western, and specifically indigenous philosophies of science to understanding the epistemic-ethical challenges climate science and scientists face?
  • To what extend, and in which ways, is epistemic trustworthiness of climate science dependent on its responsiveness to matters of climate justice?

Communicating Climate Science

  • How can Climate Science ward itself against “merchants of doubt”?
  • What challenges arise for communicating facts about global warming given different forms of uncertainties (specifically in climate modelling) affecting research in climate science?
  • What challenges exist for climate science in establishing a relationship of trust vis-à-vis a global public beyond the usual undermining attempts by “merchants of doubt”?


  • Katharina Bernhard (Philosophy)
  • Derek Ball (Philosophy)
  • Andrea Burke (Earth & Environmental Sciences)
  • Michael Byrne (Earth & Environmental Sciences)
  • Miguel de la Cal Moreno (Philosophy)
  • Alex Douglas (Philosophy)
  • Graeme MacGilchrist (Earth & Environmental Sciences)
  • James Rae (Earth & Environmental Sciences)
  • Mara van der Lugt (Philosophy)