The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. We're highlighting the research of this year's fellows in a series of online profiles.
Kyra Hoerr '20, Philosophy
"Climate Models and the Influence of Social Values"
Abstract: Social values are particularly important to understand in climate science because the implications of climate science are inherently social. Many philosophers of science have argued that social values are entrenched in the scientific process such that values may influence both climate science and the responses to climate change recommended by climate scientists. In my research I review current accounts of values in climate science, including Winsberg’s view that social values are too entrenched in climate models to understand. I argue, however, that social values can be understood at the level of the scientific community if not at the individual level. Under my view it is not possible to separate social and epistemic concerns in climate science; however, it is possible to understand the influence of values and to critique the types of values that are appropriate in a given context. For example, social values in the scientific community may influence the types of research questions that are pursued, the modeling strategies employed, and the data included in climate models. Moving forward, I will be evaluating specific cases in which social values influence climate science.
Was there anything surprising about the work you did for your project?
Initially, my project was inspired by connections between feminist epistemology and model-based philosophy of science. While I won't be talking explicitly about feminist epistemology in my presentation, I was surprised by how many connections I found between the two fields. My work over the summer and my work in philosophy of science generally has been strongly influenced by feminist epistemology in ways I didn't expect.
What was the highlight of your work?
I really enjoyed the opportunity to pursue the questions I'm most excited about. I think I got a lot out of the experience because I had the chance to investigate a very specific topic and to make connections between the fields I'm most interested in.
How will you use your research in future studies?
I'm planning to develop my summer research into my senior thesis for philosophy. I may also do similar research in grad school.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. Each summer, Bryn Mawr College awards up to 15 students a summer fellowship of $4,500 to undertake an independent research project in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. The research may either be the beginning of the senior thesis or a project that stands alone, but is relevant to their intellectual interests and must be supported by a faculty advisor.