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 affiliated with the NASA Institute for Astrobiology (NAI) and a member of CU’s Center for Astrobiology. She is the director of the Center for Study of Origins.
Areas of Interest: Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Logic, and Metaphysics. Areas of special interest include: scientific methodology (historical natural science and experimental natural science), 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.
Current Research: Working on several manuscripts on the nature and origin of life, including a book, The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life: Searching for life as we don’t know it, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press. The latter follows an anthology, The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives from Philosophy and Science, co-edited with Mark Bedau and already in print (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Continues to work on issues concerning the methodology and justification of the historical natural sciences. Currently exploring the use of models, especially computer simulations, in the practices of historical natural scientists, including planetary science. Is thinking of expanding her research to include the non-historical field sciences.
For more information, see Professor Cleland's personal website and CV.
Professor Cleland was interviewed in April 2017 for the CU Connections newsletter. Read the interview here.
- "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
- "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.