PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Are we to blame? An epistemic assessment of extreme weather event attribution

Motivated by a desire to provide a tool to aid in climate-related adaptive decision-making, scientists have recently developed a methodology known as probabilistic event attribution, which attempts to calculate the changed odds of an extreme weather event due to anthropogenic factors. I assess whether probabilistic event attribution could provide the results that motivate its development. I argue that it cannot. Probabilistic event attribution is limited in its ability to assess the uncertainty associated with its products and relies on unverifiable assumptions. Given these limitations, deploying probabilistic event attribution as a decision-making tool is deeply problematic.

Author Information:

Greg Lusk    
Department of Philosophy
University of Chicago


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