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Political Philosophy of (Climate Change) Science: Greg Lusk (Durham University)

Bern, Switzerland

This event is organized by the SNSF project "The Epistemology of Climate Change" and the OCCR group "Philosophy of science perspectives on the climate challenge".

There will be two talks taking place, in the morning and the afternoon, on Friday, 20 May 2022.


Speaker: Greg Lusk (Durham University)
Title: The Aims and Purposes of Extreme Event Attribution
Time: 10:15-12:00 
Venue: Uni Mittelstrasse 43, room 220, University of Bern, Switzerland

Extreme event attribution attempts to demonstrate that human actions have had an influence on the frequency with which a kind of an extreme event occurs, or on the magnitude of a particular extreme event. While extreme event attribution can enhance science’s understanding of the Earth’s climate, scientists and other researchers have proposed that extreme event attribution should have a role in climate-related decision making. How should we judge such proposals? This talk investigates the criteria upon which we should evaluate the use of extreme event attribution. Specifically, it will explore how social aims and purposes should impact the way that we assess the usefulness of investigations like extreme event attribution and show how we might better align our scientific tools with our social ends.


Speaker: Greg Lusk (Durham University)
Title: Towards a Political Philosophy of (Climate Change) Science
Time: 14:15-16:00 
Venue: Uni Mittelstrasse 43, room 324, University of Bern, Switzerland

A common assumption about science is that – at least in its core internal aspects – it should be free of non-epistemic (or “social”) values. There are two justifications for this “value free ideal.” The first is that science’s job is to find truths about the world, and our social values are irrelevant to that project. The second is that – at least in a democracy – scientists inserting social values into science would be illegitimate on political grounds. This talk investigates this second, less examined, justification. I show that there is no incompatibility between value-laden science and democracy. However, the standards necessary to ensure compatibility might be rather high, and this has implications for how processes like knowledge co-production work in the context of climate science and climate services. Working from climate services as an example, I explore how the high standard of democracy might be met through the distribution of legitimizing practices across different social moments.

Further information

For more details on the research seminar spring 29022 event, visit the website:

For more information on the Oeshger Centre for for Climate Change Research (OCCR) visit the website: