Nicolas Delon

Philosophy, Animals, Environment

I work in ethics, and focus on connections between value theory and moral status, animals and the environment. I have interests in metaethics, experimental philosophy, psychology, and how they bear on the descriptive and normative aspects of our relations to other entities. My research and teaching interests also include environmental studies, animal cognition, legal, social and political philosophy, the philosophy of death, Bentham, Wittgenstein, and Nietzsche.

I am currently working on three interrelated projects:

  • Animal metaethics: how disagreements within animal ethics are shaped by debates at its periphery (e.g., axiology, metaethics, science and values, concepts), and how they can be solved (or dissolved) accordingly (including the vexed relation between animal and environmental ethics)
  • Matters of life and death: meaning in the lives of animals and its moral implications; the ethics of breeding and killing animals; what it takes to be irreplaceable; the suffering and the freedom of wild animals, and what are our corresponding obligations; relations between ecosystems and animal well-being; relations between captivity, freedom, and well-being
  • Descriptive ethics: how moral theory and practice can be informed, and constrained, by social/moral psychology and experimental philosophy, in particular our attitudes to nature and other entities and the underlying cognitive processes

Drafts, penultimate and/or open access versions of many papers can be found on my Academia, ResearchGate, and PhilPapers profiles.


  1. Le problème de la souffrance chez Nietzsche et Parfit, Klêsis (forthcoming)
  2. Beyond the personhood paradigm (Comment on Thompson, Supporting Ape Rights), ASEBL Journal (2019) [open access]
  3. Setting the bar higher (Commentary on Neuhaus & Parent, Gene Doping – in Animals?), Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (2019) [final draft] [link]
  4. Social norms and farm animal protection, Palgrave Communications (2018) [open access]
  5. Animal agency, captivity and meaning, Harvard Review of Philosophy (2018) [link]
  6. Wild animal suffering is intractable (with Duncan Purves), Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics (2018) [link]
  7. Meaning in the lives of humans and other animals (with Duncan Purves), Philosophical Studies (2018) [link]
  8. L'animal d'élevage compagnon de travail: l'éthique des fables alimentaires, Revue française d'éthique appliquée (2017) [link]
  9. The values behind calculating the value of trophy hunting (with Jennifer Jacquet) (reply to Naidoo et al, 2016), Conservation Biology (2016) [link]
  10. Un Singer peut-il en remplacer un autre ?, Klêsis (2016) [link]
  11. Etudes animales : une perspective transatlantique, Tracés : Revue de Sciences Humaines (2015) [link]
  12. Une théorie morale peut-elle être cognitivement trop exigeante ?, Implications Philosophiques (2015) [link]
  13. La mort : un mal non nécessaire, surtout pour les animaux heureux !, Revue semestrielle de droit animalier (2014) [link]
  14. Moral status, final value, and extrinsic properties, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (2014) [link]
  15. Pour une éthique animale descriptive, Klêsis (2013) [link]


  1. Statut moral et vulnérabilité animale (forthcoming) [penultimate draft] (Edited volume on animals and vulnerability)
  2. The meaning of animal labour, Animal Labour, C. Blattner, K. Coulter, W. Kymlicka, eds. Oxford University Press (forthcoming) [penultimate draft]
  3. Les cartographies de l'éthique animale, S'engager pour les animaux, F. Carrié & C. Traïni. eds. PUF (2019) [final draft]
  4. The Replaceability Argument in the ethics of animal husbandry, Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, D. Kaplan & P. B. Thompson. eds. 2nd ed., Springer (2016) [link]
  5. L'éthique animale en contexte, Recherches sur la philosophie et le langage, M. Jouan & J.-Y. Goffi eds., Vrin (2016) [publisher]
  6. La sensibilité en éthique animale, entre faits et valeurs, Sensibilités animales - Perspectives juridiques, R. Bismuth & F. Marchadier eds., CNRS (2015) [publisher]
  7. Against moral intrinsicalism, Animal Ethics and Philosophy: Questioning the Orthodoxy, E. Aaltola & J. Hadley eds., Rowman & Littlefield (2015) [publisher]
  8. Handicap et animaux, Tous vulnérables ? Le care, les animaux et l'environnement, S. Laugier ed., Payot-Rivages (2012) [publisher]


Animal Consciousness (with P. Le Neindre, E. Bernard, A. Boissy, X. Boivin, L. Calandreau, B. Deputte, S. Desmoulin-Canselier, M. Dunier, N. Faivre, M. Giurfa, JL Guichet, L Lansade, R. Larrère, P. Mormède, P. Prunet, B. Schaal, J. Servière, & C. Terlouw), EFSA Supporting Publication (2017) [open access]

Work in Progress

Pervasive captivity and urban wildlife, Ethics, Policy & Environment (conditional acceptance)

This paper argues that captivity, on a plausible interpretation, is pervasive, and that, on this account, animals living in urban and suburban areas are often captive. The paper also asks what we should do about it—how to think of our obligations to promote these animals' freedoms and what policies would support the sort of habitat that promotes their well-being, including their freedoms. The upshot is that our obligations might be stronger, but their content might also be different, than we tend to think.

Titles below changed for blind review.

Animal personhood and relationships (under review)
Two-level utilitarianism and animals (revise & resubmit)
Meaningful lives, complicity, and collective harms (in progress)
Realism and suffering (in progress)

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