The Managing Severe Uncertainty project seeks to further the philosophical understanding of decision-making under conditions of severe uncertainty.



The objectives of this project are:

  1. To examine policy decision making under conditions of severe uncertainty: situations in which we lack complete information about the probabilities of possible future states of the world, about what actions will be available and what their outcomes will be, and about the desirability of these outcomes.
  2. To study scientific models that are both imperfect and non-linear, especially those of the climate and of climate change, with a view to:
  1. Understanding what limits they imply on our ability to generate forecasts that can be used by policy-makers; and
  2. Investigating ways in which such models can be fashioned to provide policy-relevant information.
  1. To study the implications for climate policy-making of the inherent limitations we face in making predictions about relevant climate variables, in relation both to our ability to assess the impact of possible interventions and to our ethical assessment of them, and to propose techniques for dealing with these limitations.
  2. To develop philosophical expertise in the field of decision-making under severe uncertainty by providing doctoral training and supervision.

This project was initiated with a large AHRC grant (running from March 2013 to March 2016) and now carries on with funding from CPNSS. It is carried out in collaboration with economists and climate scientists in other departments at LSE (and elsewhere).

Members of the Managing Severe Uncertainty Group :

Richard Bradley, Roman Frigg, Katie Steele, Michael Otsuka, Alex Voorhoeve, Charlotte Werndl (University of Salzburg and LSE), Hykel Hosni (University of Milan), Casey Helgeson, Thomas Rowe, Silvia Milano.


Selected Publications

Bradley R and Drechsler M (2013), “Types of Uncertainty“,  Erkenntnis. 79: 12225-1248.

Werndl C and Steele K (2013), “Climate Models, Confirmation and Calibration“, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64, 609-635.

Frigg R, Stainforth DA and Smith LA. (2013), “The Myopia of Imperfect Climate Models: The Case of UKCP09“, Philosophy of Science. 80(5), 886–897.

Steele K and Bradley S. (2014), “Should Subjective Probabilities Be Sharp?“,  Episteme 11(3), 277–289.

Frigg R, Bradley S, Du H, Smith LA. (2014), “Laplace’s Demon and the Adventures of His Apprentices“, Philosophy of Science.  81(1), 31–59.

Thompson E, Frigg R, and Helgeson C (2015), “Philosophy of Climate Science Part I: Observing Climate Change“, Philosophy Compass 10(12), 953-964.

Thompson E, Frigg R, and Helgeson C (2015), “Philosophy of Climate Science Part II: Modelling Climate Change“, Philosophy Compass 10(12), 965-977.

Bradley R and Steele K (2015), “Making Climate Decisions, Philosophy Compass 10 (11): 799–81.

Frigg R, Stainforth DA and Smith LA. (2015), “An Assessment of the Foundational Assumptions in High-Resolution Climate Projections: The Case of UKCP09“, Synthese 192(12), 3979–4008.

Thompson E, R Frigg, and C Helgeson (forthcoming 2016), “Expert Judgment for Climate Change Adaptation“, Philosophy of Science.

Otsuka, M (2017) “How to Guard Against the Risk of Living Too Long: the case for collective pensions”Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, v. III, 229-251. (Open-access version.)