Trust Them? The Epistemic Quality of Climate Economics

  • Martin Kowarsch
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 323)


This chapter evaluates the scientific and epistemic quality of integrated assessment models (IAMs) and related economic studies in light of Deweyan-Putnamian pragmatism. This is mainly done by analysing the treatment of three different types of uncertainty (in a broad sense), explained in Sect. 9.1. Section 9.2 discusses technical and methodological uncertainties in IAM-based economic studies. Next, the fundamental methodology underlying IAM-based economic studies is critically discussed from an epistemological perspective, and some refinements are proposed from a Deweyan perspective (Sect. 9.3). The conclusion (Sect. 9.4) regarding the overall reliability of IAM-based results is neither that IAM-based studies provide us with absolutely true knowledge, nor that we, from an epistemological perspective, should completely disregard such economic results in policy-making. Instead, a more enlightened use of uncertainty-laden economic models including IAMs is the goal, based on a revision of economic methodology in light of Deweyan-Putnamian pragmatism. A critical reflection on the predominant viewpoints in economic methodology is indispensable because it is in a worrisome state; economists often cannot compellingly explain what their results mean from a philosophical-epistemological perspective. Pragmatism (Sect.  6.2) might help overcome the disorientation of current economic methodology in several regards, without returning to the dogmatism of positivist methodology.


Climate Policy Logical Empiricism Epistemological Perspective Economic Methodology Methodological Uncertainty 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Kowarsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)BerlinGermany

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