Research

My philosophical research is about scientific methodology, and in particular how scientists build mathematical models to acquire knowledge about complex systems in the world. Typical questions I am interested in exploring are: How do scientists choose and identify phenomena of interest? What kind of assumptions are used to build models of phenomena, and how are they justified?

I use examples from contemporary sciences and their history to answer these questions. My dissertation, for example, draws from case studies in atmospheric science and oceanography to illustrate the challenges that are tied to identifying phenomena, and what kind of assumptions are made in the process of isolating target systems from their environment.

I am also interested in the social and political aspects of climate science, such as issues at the intersection of epistemology, environmental ethics and public policy. At the University of Leeds, for example, I am working with an interdisciplinary research group from the Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy on developing a conceptual framework to analyze the quality of climate information for adaptation. This framework draws on insights from philosophy of science, environmental social science and physical climate science.


Publications

Baldissera Pacchetti, M., S. Dessai, S. Bradley, D. A. Stainforth (forthcoming). Assessing the quality of regional climate information. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. [open access]

Baldissera Pacchetti, M. (online first). Structural uncertainty through the lens of model building. Synthese. [open access]

Baldissera Pacchetti, M. (2018). A role for spatiotemporal scales in modeling. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 67, 14-21. [sciencedirect]

Translations

Baldissera Pacchetti, M. English translations of

  • Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa, Tatjana. (1925). Zur Axiomatisierung des zweiten Hauptsatzes der Thermodynamik. Zeitschrift für Physik, 33, 933–945; and
  • Selected parts of Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa, Tatjana. (1956). Grundlagen der Thermodynamik. Leiden: Brill.

In Jos Uffink, Giovanni Valente, Charlotte Werndl, & Lena Zuchowski (Eds.), Tatjana Afanassjewa and her legacy: philosophical insights from the work of an original physicist and mathematician. 2020. Springer. [springerlink]

Work in Progress

“Trust and values at the science-policy interface”

I argue that theories of trust can clarify the role of value judgements in the interaction between scientists and policy makers regarding climate science and uncertainty. Theories of trust are a social science tool for analyzing the trust relations between individuals (interpersonal trust) and between organizations (organizational trust). After describing the key differences between the procedural and structural characteristics of science and policy making, I explore some of the main ideas of theories of trust. Different forms of trust (procedural, affinitive, dispositional, rational) describe the trust relationship that develops between policy makers and scientists. I suggest that these forms of trust help identify what value judgements enter the decision-making process at the science-policy interface. A breakdown in trust can damage the relationship between scientists and policy makers, and I discuss a breakdown in procedural trust, a form of trust that arises from the trustor’s reliance on the rules of knowledge production of the trustee. The trustor is usually an individual, and the trustee can be either an individual or an institution. The breakdown can result from a misalignment of value judgments in knowledge co-production, which is a misalignment in epistemic value judgements, and from differences in incentive structures for scientists and policy makers. The difference in incentive structure can influence epistemic and ethical value judgements of both scientists and policy makers. Finally, I suggest that deep uncertainty is a special case of breakdown in procedural trust that arises from a misalignment of value judgements about what counts as reliable information.

“Towards a standpoint epistemology of climate science” (with Julie Jebeile and Erica Thompson)

Abstract available upon request.

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