Kevin Elliott, Ph.D.

Kevin Elliott

Associate Professor

31 West Holmes and NR40


Area of Expertise: Environmental ethics; philosophy of science; research ethics; values in science

Dr. Elliott’s Website


Ph.D., History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, 2004
M.A., History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, 2002
B.S., Chemistry and Philosophy, Wheaton College, 1997


Kevin Elliott is jointly appointed in MSU’s Lyman Briggs College, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Department of Philosophy. He is a philosopher who studies the role of values in science as well as a range of ethical issues related to science and technology. Much of his scholarship is related to social issues raised by environmental pollution, and he is the author of the book Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is currently leading an NSF grant to study how diversity within environmental science teams affects their ethical standards and practices. He teaches courses related to the philosophy of science, science policy, and conservation ethics.

Research Interests

  • Investigating the roles of ethical and social values in environmental research
  • Exploring how to respond to financial conflicts of interest in research
  • Studying ethical issues surrounding science communication
  • Investigating how to motivate public action to address environmental issues
  • Exploring ethical issues surrounding emerging technologies
  • Examining the process of scientific discovery, including the role of “exploratory” research and the process of responding to errors and anomalies


Selected Publications

2014 (with Daniel McKaughan) “ Non-Epistemic Values and the Multiple Goals of Science ,” Philosophy of Science 81 (2014): 1-21.

2014 “Anthropocentric Indirect Arguments for Environmental Protection,” Ethics, Policy, & Environment 17: 243-260.

2014 “ Financial Conflicts of Interest and Criteria for Research Credibility ,” Erkenntnis 79: 917-937.

2013 (authored with David Willmes) “Cognitive Attitudes and Values in Science ,” Philosophy of Science 80 (2013 Proceedings): 807-817.

2013 “Ethical and Societal Values in Nanotoxicology,” in B. Gordijn and A. M. Cutter (eds.), In Pursuit of Nanoethics: Transantlantic Reflections on Nanotechnology (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013), p. 147-166.

2013 “ Douglas on Values: From Indirect Roles to Multiple Goals ,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 44 (2013): 375-383.

2013 (authored with Daniel McKaughan) “Backtracking and the Ethics of Framing: Lessons from Voles and Vasopressin,” Accountability in Research 20 (2013): 206-226. 

2013 (authored with David Resnik) “ Taking Financial Relationships into Account When Assessing Research ,” Accountability in Research 20 (2013): 184-205.

2013 “ Selective Ignorance and Agricultural Research ,” Science, Technology, and Human Values 38 (2013): 328-350.

2013 “Risk, Precaution, and Nanotechnology,” in R. Sandler (ed.), Ethics and Emerging Technologies (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013).

2012 “ Epistemic and Methodological Iteration in Scientific Research ,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 43 (2012): 376-382.

2011 (authored with Michael Dickson) “ Distinguishing Risk and Uncertainty in Risk Assessments of Emerging Technologies ,” in Torben Zülsdorf, Christopher Coenen, Arianna Ferrari, Ulrich Fiedeler, Colin Milburn, and Matthias Wienroth (eds.), Quantum Engagements: Social Reflections of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (Heidelberg: AKA Verlag, 2011), pp. 165-176.

2011 (authored with Katherine Robinson) “Environmental Aesthetics and Public Environmental Philosophy,” Ethics, Policy, & Environment 14 (2011): 175-191. 

2011 “ Direct and Indirect Roles for Values in Science ,” Philosophy of Science 78 (2011): 303-324.

2010 (authored with Maureen O’Malley and Richard Burian) “ From Genetic to Genomic Regulation: Iterative Methods in miRNA Research ,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (2010): 407-417.

2010 “ Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles, Energy Policy, and the Ethics of Expertise ,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (2010): 376-393.

2010 “ Geoengineering and the Precautionary Principle ,” International Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (2010): 237-253.