Elis Jones

Department: Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology
Discipline: Sociology and Philosophy
Research Centre/Unit: Egenis

Project Summary

The guiding question for my PhD project is ‘What role does value play in coral reef science?’. I am focused specifically on efforts to regenerate coral reefs. My aim is to produce an empirically-informed philosophical and sociological account of the roles played by value in coral reef science and practice. As well as theoretical analysis of the relevant scientific literature, I am also conducting interviews with coral scientists. My aim is not only to produce insights into why coral reefs are regarded as so important, but also into how science operates when its objects of study are considered valuable by scientists. This is an interdisciplinary project, combining elements of Philosophy, Sociology, Science and Technology Studies, and Marine Sciences.

Supervisory Team

Professors Sabina Leonelli and John Dupré

Wider Research Interests

I am broadly interested in philosophy and sociology of science, especially of the life sciences. I think that drawing wider attention to marine sciences, particularly the most thought-provoking elements, which are often some of the least explored areas of the biosphere, is likely to produce benefits for both philosophy and science. At the same time it provides opportunities to confront our wider tendency to generalise from the perspective of medium-sized terrestrial animals. Both my Master’s and PhD projects have been focused on coral reefs, regeneration, and their interactions with humans and science. For my MRes dissertation I focused on attempts to modify coral reefs to make them resilient to climate change (so-called ‘supercoral’). I have also been looking at similarities and differences in regeneration in coral and other living systems.

A key strand of my research focuses on ‘value’, which I am interested in across several contexts, particularly philosophy, sociology, economics, ecology and biology. The multiple connected meanings of the term value provide both opportunities and challenges. One which interests me particularly is how we can make sense of value in non-human contexts. I am keen to pursue understandings of value which treat it as an integral part of the world, rather than a psychological bolt-on or afterthought. This has been fed by an interest in process philosophy, particularly in biology, ecology and economics, and the opportunities this provides for avoiding, reframing or moving past traditional dichotomies, such as objectivity/subjectivity, naturalism/normativism or human/nature.

Authored Publications/Reports

Jones, Elis (23rd January 2021) Distinguishing regeneration from degradation in coral reefs: the role of value, Synthese, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-021-03023-9