On the “reality” and reality of anthropogenic climate change
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Can scholars speak about the reality of climate change? By this I mean, can we fairly say that we know that anthropogenic climate change is real? Or is reality—and the very idea of knowing—something that needs to be continually qualified, by scare quotes or otherwise? Fifteen years ago this issue—broadly applied—erupted as a schism between social scientists who insisted on recognition of the social dimensions of scientific knowledge, and natural scientists who took such claims as an affront not just to their status and dignity, but to their ontology as well. 
The question of how well anthropogenic knowledge maps onto anthro-independent phenomena is scarcely new: philosophers from Plato to Kant famously grappled with it. In the 20th century Pierre Duhen and W.V.O. Quine, working from very different perspectives, stressed that empirical evidence never uniquely defines theoretical possibility; our theories are always, to one degree or another, under-determined by our evidence.  In...
KeywordsClimate Change Global Warming Scientific Knowledge Climate Change Impact Tectonic Plate
Thanks to Nancy Cartwright for comments on an earlier version of this paper, and for guiding my thinking on all the most important issues.
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