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Both climate scientists and philosophers have been working hard to understand how the huge multidimensional global climate models can be tested and confirmed. The convergence of multiple climate models on a single outcome or result has provided a key feature in these discussions. Philosophers of science tend to think that such convergence, or “robustness,” is not confirmatory, because the models could converge and still all be wrong. Climate scientists, on the other hand, do tend to see the convergence of climate models on a result as confirmatory. I will offer a defense and generalization of the climate scientists’ position, while differentiating their style of robustness from others considered by philosophers.


Elisabeth Lloyd received her B.A. from the University of Colorado in 1980, and her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1984, where she worked with Bas van Fraassen. She has received numerous awards and grants, including several from the National Science Foundation. Her research interests are primarily in the philosophy of biology, general philosophy of science, the role of models in science, and gender issues in science. She has recently taught courses in these areas as well as a graduate seminar on the American pragmatists, and one of the philosophy surveys in our department. Her publications include The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory (Greenwood Press, 1988; Princeton University Press, 1994) and “Feyerabend, Mill, and Pluralism” (Philosophy of Science, 1997).

Professor Lloyd holds the Arnold and Maxine Tanis Chair of History and Philosophy of Science. She is also Professor of Biology, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Affiliated Faculty Scholar at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, and Adjunct Faculty at the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.

Read more about Elizabeth Lloyd.


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