Page:Lawhead columbia 0054D 12326.pdf/219

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

global climate in any interesting sense; they are not mere limit-case parameterizations of a single complete model. Neither, though, are they idealizations in Norton’s sense. It seems far more accurate to think of general circulation models (coupled or otherwise) as pragmatic idealizations in the sense described above.

More strongly, this strikes me as the right way to think about climate models in general--as tools crafted for a particular purpose. This lends further credence to the point that I’ve argued for repeatedly here: that the pluralistic and heterogeneous character of the climate model family reflects not a historical accident of development or a temporary waystation on the road to developing One Model to Rule them All. Rather, this pluralism is a natural result of the complexity of the climate system, and of the many fruitful perspectives that we might adopt when studying it.

The project of modeling the global climate in general, then, is a project of pragmatic idealization. The sense of ‘idealization’ here is perhaps somewhere between Weisberg’s and Norton’s. It differs most strongly from Norton’s in the sense that the values of parameters in a pragmatic idealization need not approximate values in the “target system” of the global climate at all. Some apsects of even the best models, in fact, will have explicitly non-physical parameters; this was the worry that kicked off the present discussion to begin with, since it seems that processes like flux adjustment have no direct physical analogues in the global climate itself. Rather, they are artifacts of the particular model--the particular approach to pragmatic idealization--under consideration.

How problematic is it, then, that the flux adjustment has no direct physical analog in the