Carol Cleland (PhD, Brown, 1981) arrived at CU Boulder in 1986, after having spent a year on a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information. She is a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute Affiliate, a member of CU Boulder’s Center for Astrobiology. She was involved as Co-I and Key Collaborator on several science teams of the now disbanded NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).
Carol Cleland’s research interests lie in the areas of Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Logic, and Metaphysics. Areas of special interest include: scientific methodology (historical science and the field sciences considered generally, and the role of anomalies in scientific discovery), scientific theories and the use of models (especially in the historical sciences), philosophy of biology (microbiology, astrobiology, nature of life, and the hypothesis of a ‘shadow biosphere’, a term which she coined), causation, space and time, supervenience, events, Church-Turing thesis and effective procedures.
Carol Cleland is the author of The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life: Searching for life as we don’t know it (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and co-author (with Mark Bedau) of The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives from Philosophy and Science (Cambridge University Press, 2010; reprinted in paperback 2018). She has published extensively in both science and philosophy journals. She is currently working on two projects: (i) rethinking mineralogical natural kinds in the context of what we are learning about the origin and evolution of minerals in planetary contexts and (ii) the role of anomalies in scientific discovery, especially in geology and biology.
Professor Cleland was interviewed in April 2017 for the CU Connections newsletter. Read the interview here.
- "Historical natural kinds and mineralogy: Systematizing contingency in the context of necessity", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Perspective) 118 (2021), pp. 1-9.
- "Moving beyond Definitions of Life in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life", Astrobiology 9 (2019), pp. 722-729.
- "Common cause explanation and the search for a smoking gun", in Baker. V. (ed.) 125th Anniversary Volume of the Geological Society of America: Rethinking the Fabric of Geology, Special Paper 502 (2013), pp. 1-9.
- “Conceptual Challenges for Contemporary Theories of the Origin of Life,”Current Organic Chemistry: Special Issue on Prebiotic Chemistry (2012), pp. 1704-1709.
- "Science and the Messy, Uncontrollable World of Nature" (Cleland, C. and Brindell, S.), in Pigliucci, M and Boudry, M. (eds.), Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2013), pp. 183-202.
- "Pluralism or Unity in Biology: Do microbes hold the secret to life?" Biology & Philosophy 28 (2013), pp. 189-204.
- “Life without Definitions," Synthese (2012).
- “Prediction and Explanation in Historical Natural Science,” British Journal of Philosophy of Science 62(3) (2011)
- “Signatures of a shadow biosphere,” (with Davies, P., Benner, S., Cleland, C. E., Lineweaver, C. & C. McKay) Astrobiology 9 (2009): 241-249.
- “Epistemological issues in the study of microbial life: alternative biospheres,” Stud. Hist. Phil. Bio. & Biomed. Sci. 38 (2007): 847-861.
- “Does ‘life’ have a definition?” (With C. Chyba) in Sullivan and Baross (eds.), Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology, Ch. 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2007): 119-131. (Reprinted in C. E. Cleland & M. A. Bedau (eds.) The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives from Philosophy and Science. Cambridge 2010, pp. 326-339.)
- “The Church-Turing Thesis: A last vestige of a failed mathematical program”, in Olszewksi, A., Wolenski, J. and R. Janusz (eds.), Church’s Thesis after Seventy Years. Berlin: Ontos Verlag (2006): 119-146.
- “The Possibility of Alternative Microbial Life on Earth,” (With S. Copley) International Journal of Astrobiology 4, (2005): pp. 165-173. (Reprinted in C. E. Cleland & M. A. Bedau (eds.) The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives from Philosophy and Science. Cambridge (2010): 198-209.)
- “The Concept of Computability,” Theoretical Computer Science 317/1-3 (2004): 209-225.
- “Methodological and Epistemic Differences Between Historical Science and Experimental Science,” Philosophy of Science 69 (2002): 474-496.
- “Defining ‘Life’” (with C. Chyba), Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere 32(4) (2002): 387-93.
- “Historical science, experimental science, and the scientific method”, Geology 29 (2001): 987-990.
- “Recipes, Algorithms, and Programs", Minds and Machines 11 (2001): 219-237.
- "Is the Church-Turing Thesis True?", Minds and Machines 3 (1993): 283-312.
- "On the Individuation of Events”, Synthese, Vol 86 (1991):229-254. (Reprinted in R. Casati & A. Varzi (eds.) Events. Dartmouth 1996: 373-400).
- "The Difference Between Real Change and Mere Cambridge Change", Philosophical Studies, Vol 60 (1990): 257-280.
- "Causality, Chance and Weak Non-Supervenience", American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 22 (1985): 287-298.
- "Space: An Abstract System of Non-Supervenient Relations", Philosophical Studies, Vol. 46 (1984): 19-40.