Chapter 2Which facts to trust in the debate on climate change?
On knowledge and plausibility in times of crisis
The assumption that the truth of facts is at the centre of knowledge crises would seem to suggest fact-checking or providing additional facts as methods of resolution. In this paper, this is reflected on by utilizing two complementary perspectives: an epistemological approach guided by theoretical positions from Philosophy of Science and a pragmalinguistic approach using methods of Applied Discourse Analysis. We argue that although facts are necessary in science communication, they are not sufficient. Instead, we suggest focusing on this question: To what extent do we consider a statement plausible? By dissecting a historical and a present case (geocentrism, climate change) and applying the complementary approaches described above, the relevance of their respective epistemic systems (Goldman 2010) and what we call ‘settings of comprehension’ can be revealed. In this process, it can be demonstrated why what some people consider absurd, others consider plausible, and vice versa. On this basis, science communication can operate from a more deliberate level.
- Introduction: The state of facts in knowledge crises
- Questioning knowledge
- Questioning facts
- Asking a different question
- Plausibility as a pattern of thinking and reasoning
- Dissecting two knowledge crises
- The dispute between Galileo and Bellarmine
- Harald Lesch’s “Clarifying misconceptions about climate change”
- James Inhofe’s senate speech on climate change