How Climate Scientists View the Expert Role

ARENA Working Paper 2/2018 (pdf)

Torbjørn Gundersen

How scientific experts should relate to non-epistemic values is a key issue in current philosophy of science. This paper seeks to widen the philosophical debate by exploring how scientists themselves understand their role as experts and that role’s relation to values. I present findings from interviews with climate scientists who have participated as authors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A main finding is that the climate scientists subscribe to the value-free ideal in their role as experts. Yet their views on the moral responsibility of scientists and the aim of providing policy-relevant output challenge the value-free ideal. The paper suggests ways in which their normative views and lines of reasoning can illustrate, expand, and revise the philosophical discussion on the question of non-epistemic values in science.

Tags: Climate Science, Expert Role, IPCC, Moral Responsibility, Policy-relevance, Value-free Ideal
Published Apr. 18, 2018 9:37 AM - Last modified May 3, 2018 9:07 AM