Holism, entrenchment, and the future of climate model pluralism

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Lenhard, Johannes and Winsberg, Eric

In this paper, we explore the extent to which issues of simulation model validation take on novel characteristics when the models in question become particularly complex. Our central claim is that complex simulation models in general, and global models of climate in particular, face a form of confirmation holism. This holism, moreover, makes analytic understanding of complex models of climate either extremely difficult or even impossible. We argue that this supports a position we call convergence skepticism: the belief that the existence of a plurality of different models making a plurality of different forecasts of future climate is likely to be a persistent feature of global climate science.


Lenhard, J., and E. Winsberg. 2010. Holism, entrenchment, and the future of climate model pluralism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41:253–262.