A pluralist approach to epistemic dilemmas in event attribution science

Abstract

In recent years, a dispute has arisen within detection and attribution science concerning the appropriate methodology for associating individual weather events with anthropogenic climate change. In recent contributions, it has been highlighted that this conflict is seemingly misconstrued even by those participating in it and actually concerns a mixture of first and second order so-called inductive risk considerations—in short, it is about values and the role values should have in science. In this paper, we analyze this methodological conflict and examine the inductive risk considerations and argue that there is also another dimension to consider with respect to values that have to do with what detection and attribution science is for. We suggest a framework for understanding this as a kind of problem-feeding situation and thus an issue of problem–solution coordination between different contexts, where the problem is solved versus where the solution is put to use. This has important implications, not least for whether we should understand this conflict as a genuine methodological one or not.