Jessica Lee

PhD student

Jessica is currently doing a PhD entitled: The role of values in the production of climate science for decision support. This research aims to bring pertinent debates in philosophy of science on values to bear on the climate science domain. One question my PhD intends to answer is: where and how should social values influence climate science? It answers this question by applying two arguments in philosophy of science on values to decision relevant climate science to illustrate, through a range of climate science examples, some of the waves in which non-epistemic value judgments can legitimately influence scientific choices that climate scientists make. One critical issue that has arisen through this research is the presence of conflicting values and how this plays out in disagreements about suitable methodological choices. Extreme event attribution research seeks to determine whether particular extreme weather and climate events (such as a flood, a heat waves, etc.) are related to rising greenhouse gas concentrations. Recently, a debate has arisen over the introduction of a new method for extreme event attribution, which – unlike traditional methods – prioritizes avoiding false negatives (i.e. rejecting conclusions that are actually true ) over avoiding false positives (i.e. accepting conclusions that are actually false) Following work by Lloyd and Oreskes (2018),This research will show how this debate can be related to a value conflict between personal, institutional, and social values. It will explore potential reasons for why such a value conflict has arisen and how the conflict might be resolved. Preliminary ways forward involve considering similar choices about inductive risk faced by professionals in other fields, such as medicine. This research will compare and contrast the risks faced by climate scientists, both personal and institutional, with such professionals in other fields, and will consider the role that moral obligations might play in resolving the conflict.

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