Elisabeth Lloyd

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Elisabeth Anne Lloyd (born September 3, 1956) is an American philosopher of biology. She currently holds the Arnold and Maxine Tanis Chair of History and Philosophy of Science and is also professor of biology, adjunct professor of philosophy at Indiana University, 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.

Early life and education[edit]

Lloyd was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and earned her BA in science and political theory from University of Colorado, Boulder in 1980, summa cum laude. Lloyd studied under Bas van Fraassen at Princeton University for a PhD in philosophy 1980 – 1984. While a student at Princeton, she spent a year (1983) studying with Richard C. Lewontin at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology.[1]


She worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at University of California, San Diego, 1985–88; and then was assistant professor, then associate professor, then full professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley from 1988 to 1999, before moving to Indiana University. Her 2005 book, The Case of the Female Orgasm, was widely discussed in the scholarly and popular press, including Isis, Nature and The New York Times.[2] The book criticizes what it portrays as anti-scientific biases infecting the many proposed adaptive explanations of female orgasm. Lloyd goes on to argue that the available evidence, such as from sexology studies, is far more supportive of a neutral "byproduct" explanation put forward by Donald Symons, under which female orgasm is the result of orgasm developing as a species trait due to its critical role in males for procreation (akin to explanations for why nipples, which are required for nursing in females, are also present in males). The book received so much attention that it was lampooned on an episode of Saturday Night Live because its title sounds like a racy version of a Hardy Boys novel. Lloyd had been working on the subject for two years, when a discussion with Stephen Jay Gould in 1986 led to her providing the basis for his 1987 essay in Natural History titled 'Freudian Slip',[3] which was reprinted in 1992 as 'Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples.'[4]


  • The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory, Greenwood Press, 1988 (Reprinted Princeton University Press, 1994 ISBN 0-691-00046-8).
  • Keywords in Evolutionary Biology (co-edited with Evelyn Fox Keller), Harvard University Press, 1992 (reprinted 1998 ISBN 0-674-50313-9).
  • The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, Harvard University Press, 2005 (new edition, 2006 ISBN 0-674-02246-7).
  • Science, Politics and Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 2008 (ISBN 9780521865708).
  • Climate Modelling: Philosophical and Conceptual Issues (co-edited with Eric Winsberg) Palgrave MacMillan, 2018

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lloyd, E.A. 1994. The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, p. xi.
  2. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/17/science/17orga.html?scp=1&sq=elisabeth%20lloyd&st=cse
  3. ^ Gould, S.J. (1987). Freudian Slip. Natural History 96 (2): 14-21.
  4. ^ Gould, S.J. (1992). Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples. In Bully for Brontosaurus: Further Reflections in Natural History. London: Penguin Books. Pp.124-138.

External links[edit]