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Environmental sustainability

Our interdisciplinary research on environmental philosophy focuses on environmental justice and the economic valuation of environmental goods.

Manchester has a number of philosophers working on interrelated problems concerned with how we should value the environment, the limits of market valuations, our attitudes towards the environment and motivations to act on them, and different dimensions of environmental justice.


John O’Neill works on:

  • the limits of market based approaches to environmental governance and on the dimensions of justice raised by environmental problems like climate change;
  • the BIOMOT project on questions about the economic valuation of biodiversity, the limits of ecosystem approaches to environmental problems and problems with biodiversity offsetting.

He is a participant in:

  • the EU Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade project  (EJOLT);
  • the project ClimateJust, developing a website for local authorities and service providers to address climate vulnerability.

He was principal investigator on:

  • two recent projects on justice and climate change in the UK and a participant on a third project on flood disadvantage in Scotland.

Paul Knights is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. His project, 'Environmental values and ecosystem services', takes as its starting point concern among some in the nature conservation movement over the increasing use of market-based instruments to achieve environmental goals, including the use of economic valuation in environmental decision making and payments to land managers in return for their conservation activities. He is  investigating whether the scepticism among some environmentalists regarding these policies and instruments is justified. The research is interdisciplinary, combining a philosophical analysis of economic concepts such as 'ecosystem services' and 'natural capital' that now dominate policy making, and an empirical investigation of whether non-economic modes of valuing nature are 'crowded out' when these market-based concepts and policies are introduced. Paul was previously a researcher on the BIOMOT project.

Michael Scott works on moral motivation and internalism and, as part of the BIOMOT project, worked in particular on attitudes towards biodiversity and the environment.

Thomas Uebel works on Otto Neurath in the socialist calculation debates and its implications for the limits of market modes of governance for the valuation of environmental goods.

Recently funded projects

Sustainability begins at home ...

In our AHRC project, 'The Age of Metaphysical Revolution', we are trying to reduce the carbon footprint that is normally associated with a large research project by making use of various kinds of virtual conferencing software and video-conferencing facilities. We'll be producing a report at the end of the project to try and encourage other academics to try these formats for themselves.

Michael Scott acts as the Environmental Sustainability Lead for the School, chairing the School Environment Team. Our building was awarded a 'Green Impact' silver award in 2015.