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Climate models, calibration, and confirmation

Werndl, Charlotte and Steele, Katie (2013) Climate models, calibration, and confirmation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 64 (3). pp. 609-635. ISSN 0007-0882

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We argue that concerns about double-counting -- using the same evidence both to calibrate or tune climate models and also to confirm or verify that the models are adequate --deserve more careful scrutiny in climate modelling circles. It is widely held that double-counting is bad and that separate data must be used for calibration and confirmation. We show that this is far from obviously true, and that climate scientists may be confusing their targets. Our analysis turns on a Bayesian/relative-likelihood approach to incremental confirmation. According to this approach, double-counting is entirely proper. We go on to discuss plausible difficulties with calibrating climate models, and we distinguish more and less ambitious notions of confirmation. Strong claims of confirmation may not, in many cases, be warranted, but it would be a mistake to regard double-counting as the culprit

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Oxford University Press
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2012 10:15

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