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Severe Weather Event Attribution: Why values won’t go away

Winsberg, Eric and Oreskes, Naomi and Lloyd, Elisabeth (2019) Severe Weather Event Attribution: Why values won’t go away. [Preprint]

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We start by reviewing the complicated situation in methods of scientific attribution of climate change to extreme weather events. We emphasize the social values involved in using both so-called ``storyline'' and ordinary probabilistic or ``risk-based'' methods, noting that one important virtue claimed by the storyline approach is that it features a reduction in false negative results, which has much social and ethical merit, according to its advocates. This merit is critiqued by the probabilistic, risk-based, opponents, who claim the high ground; the usual probabilistic approach is claimed to be more objective and more ``scientific'', under the grounds that it reduces false positive error. We examine this mostly-implicit debate about error, which apparently mirrors the old Jeffrey-Rudner debate. We also argue that there is an overlooked component to the role of values in science: that of second-order inductive risk, and that it makes the relative role of
values in the two methods different from what it first appears to be. In fact, neither method helps us to escape social values, and be more scientifically ``objective'' in the sense of being removed or detached from human values and interests. The probabilistic approach does not succeed in doing so, contrary to the claims of its proponents. This is
important to understand, because neither method is, fundamentally, a successful strategy for climate scientists to avoid making value judgments.

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Item Type: Preprint
Oreskes, Naomi
Lloyd, Elisabeth
Keywords: Climate; Weather; Values; logic of research questions;
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Climate Science and Meteorology
Depositing User: Eric Winsberg
Date Deposited: 30 May 2019 04:54
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 15:20
Item ID: 16065
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Climate Science and Meteorology
Date: 29 May 2019

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