European Journal for Philosophy of Science

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 191–215

Are climate models credible worlds? Prospects and limitations of possibilistic climate prediction

Original paper in Philosophy of Science

DOI: 10.1007/s13194-015-0108-y

Cite this article as:
Betz, G. Euro Jnl Phil Sci (2015) 5: 191. doi:10.1007/s13194-015-0108-y


Climate models don’t give us probabilistic forecasts. To interpret their results, alternatively, as serious possibilities seems problematic inasmuch as climate models rely on contrary-to-fact assumptions: why should we consider their implications as possible if their assumptions are known to be false? The paper explores a way to address this possibilistic challenge. It introduces the concepts of a perfect and of an imperfect credible world, and discusses whether climate models can be interpreted as imperfect credible worlds. That would allow one to use models for possibilistic prediction and salvage widespread scientific practice.


Climate model Possibility Scenario Credible world Prediction Representation Uncertainty Idealisation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of PhilosophyKarlsruheGermany

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