Morality, Society and Environment Morality, Society and Environment

We are committed to philosophy that is engaged with moral and political life, developing new ways to think about pressing concerns on personal, social and global scales. UEA philosophers have made contributions to key debates in environmental philosophy and animal ethics, methods in moral philosophy, and the historical and political contexts of moral and social thought.

Environmental Philosophy and Animal Ethics

Addressing the most important and difficult concerns of our age, environmental philosophy is emerging as a major focus of philosophical work that draws upon on an array of methods, traditions and interdisciplinary expertise. How can we integrate ecological values into ethics, politics and aesthetics? How should we relate to non-human animals? Is a truly ecological economics possible? And how should we rethink human life and civilisation in the light of global ecological breakdown? To address questions such as these we are currently co-ordinating an AHRC Research Network on ‘Debating nature’s value’.

T. Greaves and R. Read (2015): Where Value Resides: Making Ecological Value Possible. Environmental Ethics, 37:3.

T. Greaves (2016): Natural Phenomena: The Birth and Growth of Experience. In Bryan Bannon (ed.) Nature and Experience: Phenomenology and the Environment, Rowman & Littlefield International.

R. Read (2015): Green Economics versus Growth Economics. Radical Philosophy, 189 Jan/Feb.

G. Francione (2008): Animals as Persons. Columbia University Press.

C. Osborne (2007): Dumb beasts and dead philosophers: humanity and the humane in ancient philosophy and literature. Oxford University Press.

Methods in Moral Philosophy

Challenging the traditional separation of meta-ethics, normative theories and applied philosophy, UEA philosophers have been at the forefront of developments that integrate reflection on method with engaged philosophy. Does the ambition to develop a universal normative theory mislead us about the role that such theories can play in clarifying the concept of goodness? Are there moral experts and do moral philosophers have reliable moral intuitions?

J. Andow (2017): Are Intuitions About Moral Relevance Susceptible to Framing Effects? Review of Philosophy and Psychology.

C. Rowett (2015): Factual Mistakes, epistemological virtues and moral errors: a study in Augustine’s Confessions, in Sophie Grace Chappell (ed.) Intuition, theory and anti-theory in ethics

O. Kuusela (in Press): 'Wittgenstein and the Unity of Good'. In Nino Rosania, Freddy Santamaria and Karen Cardenas (eds.) Perspectivas Wittgensteinianas. Mexico: Benemerita Universidad de Puebla and Universidad de Valle.

Historical and Political Contexts

Innovative approaches to moral and political philosophy often emerge from dialogue with historical thinkers in the light of contemporary concerns. Can and should normative and ethical principles guide political institutions? How should we understand the relationship between philosophical theory, concrete political projects and social practices? We address these questions in the light of ancient philosophy, Wittgenstein and contemporary political theory. 

C. Rowett (2016): Why the Philosopher Kings will believe the Noble Lie. In Victor Caston ed. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy.  Oxford University Press.

O. Kuusela and  B. de Mesel (eds) (forthcoming): Ethics in the Wake of Wittgenstein. Routledge.

J. Prinz and E. Rossi (2017): Political realism as ideology critique. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 20:3, 348-365.

Collaborations Collaborations

Our vibrant research environment involves us in interdisciplinary and international collaboration.

Janosch Prinz currently holds a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at UEA titled “Toward a Diagnostic Approach to Democratic Legitimacy”. Janosch is working on ways to bridge the divide between sociological-empirical and normative-theoretical approaches to democratic legitimacy. This research involves him in the Cultural Politics, Communication, and Media and Critical Global Politics research groups.

Rupert Read has collaborated with world leading researchers, including Nassim Taleb, on the Precautionary Principle.  He is a well-known figure in public debate on ecological philosophy and Chair of the think tank Green House. Environmental philosophers at UEA undertake interdisciplinary work as part of the Ecology Research Group and the Environment, Space and Place research group.

Tom Greaves is Associate Editor of the journal Environmental Values. In 2017 world leading animal ethics expert Gary Francione joined UEA as Honorary Professor. In 2013 we hosted the Tenth Annual Meeting of the International Society for Environmental Ethics.


Current and recent PhD topics in the area include:

Benjamin Carpenter, (CHASE funded) ‘Recognition, Identity and Public Space’;
Yanzhou Chen, ‘Wittgenstein and Ethics’;
Samantha Earle, ‘A Radical New Imaginary beyond Sustainability’;
Janis Loschmann, ‘The Concept of the Commons’;
Babrak Ibrahimy, ‘The Concept of the Political: Between Schmitt and Arendt’;
Ruth Makoff, ‘Confronting Climate Crisis’.

Contact us Contact us

If you are interested in learning more about this area of research, or applying for a postgraduate position, please contact Thomas Greaves,