Climate Change: Philosophical Perspectives – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Climate Change: Philosophical Perspectives

The Hobart and William Smith Climate Change and Philosophy Colloquium continues with three days of public talks beginning Wednesday, Sept. 5.

The series, which began last spring, brings international experts to explore not only the intersecting scientific, social, political and ethical concerns that arise from the changing climate, but also how these issues relate to epistemological questions — how we know what we know — about climate change.

“A frighteningly large number of people in the U.S. hold views that are ‘skeptical’ about the well-known causes of climate change,” says Professor of Philosophy Scott Brophy ’78, who is organizing the series. “With these talks, we’re unpacking what it is that counts as knowledge, with an eye toward, for example, how even with an abundance of evidence, one could hold views about climate change that amount to science denial.”

Naomi Oreskes

Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

Wednesday, Sept 5 ​at 7:30 p.m.

“Climate Change: What Now?”

Oreskes is the author of several books including the award-winning and influential Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, which inspired the 2014 documentary of the same name. She joined the Harvard faculty in 2013 after 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  The recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship in History of Science, Technology, & Economics, Oreskes explores earth and environmental sciences, particularly in the context of scientific consensus and dissent. Her articles and essays appear in leading news outlets and scholarly journals, including her widely cited 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”


Elisabeth Lloyd

Arnold and Maxine Tanis Chair of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University

Thursday, Sept. 6 at 4:30 p.m.

“When Should We Adopt New Methods of Attributing Climate Change? Arguments on Behalf of a Causally Based Approach”

Lloyd is the award-winning author of several books exploring the “why” of evolution, including The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory and Science, Evolution, and Politics. Her work has been published in a variety of philosophical and scientific journals and edited books, and featured widely both in academia and culture at large, from Nature and The New York Times to The View and Saturday Night Live. Lloyd is an affiliated faculty scholar at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction and adjunct faculty member at the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior. For more than a decade, she has worked in philosophy of climate science, resulting in her newest book, Philosophical and Conceptual Issues in Climate Modeling, which she co-edited with Eric Winsberg.


Stephan Lewandowsky

Professor and Chair in Cognitive Science and Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow, University of Bristol

Friday, Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m.

“Rational Denial of Undeniable Climate Change: When Gullibility Masquerades as Skepticism”

Lewandowsky’s research examines people’s memory, decision-making and knowledge structures, with a particular emphasis on the public’s acceptance of misinformation and conspiracy theories. His recent work explores the potential conflict between human cognition and the physics of the global climate, which has led him into research in climate science and climate modeling. As a result of his work in climate science he was appointed Visiting Scientist at the CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere laboratory in Hobart, Tasmania, in August 2017. The author of more than 200 scholarly articles, chapters and books, Lewandowsky was appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science and a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science in 2017. In 2016, he was appointed a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry for his commitment to science, rational inquiry and public education.

All talks are free and open to the public and will be held in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

The colloquium began last spring with Philip Kitcher, the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, and Henry Shue, senior research fellow, emeritus fellow and professor of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford.

World-renowned climate scientist Michael Mann will deliver the final presentation of the colloquium in November.

The Climate Change and Philosophy Colloquium is sponsored through the generosity of Kenneth and Patricia Gaglione P’16.