Kevin Elliott

Associate Professor

Lyman Briggs College, & Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, & Department of Philosophy

Michigan State University


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


His research interests are at the interface between the philosophy of science and practical ethics, focusing especially on environmental issues and research ethics. Much of his work is focused around four topics:

  • Understanding how ethical and social values are embedded in scientific research and reflecting on how to address these values in a responsible fashion
  • Exploring how financial conflicts of interest can affect policy-relevant research and examining strategies for responding to those influences
  • Developing strategies for promoting more fruitful communication between scientists , policy makers, journalists, and members of the public
  • Considering how best to respond to the human and environmental risks posed by new and emerging technologies

Many of the case studies that he has examined involve contemporary research on environmental pollution, including endocrine disruption, nanotechnology, multiple chemical sensitivity, and hormesis. His book, Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research, was published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. He has published in journals such as Ethics, Policy & Environment; Environmental Ethics; Science, Technology & Human Values; Accountability in Research; Science and Engineering Ethics; Philosophy of Science; Studies in History and Philosophy of Science; History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences; Cell; Human and Experimental Toxicology; and Environmental Science and Technology. For a complete list of his publications and presentations, you can consult his CV at his personal webpage.


The representative publications are:

Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

“Anthropocentric Indirect Arguments for Environmental Protection,” Ethics, Policy, & Environment (forthcoming).

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

(authored with David C. Volz) “Mitigating Conflicts of Interest in Chemical Safety Testing,” Environmental Science and Technology 46 (2012): 7937-7938.

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


Kevin Elliott’s recent work has been focusing in a couple areas: (1) addressing financial conflicts of interest in research; and (2) examining the relevance of the concept of agnotology, or socially produced ignorance, to the philosophy of science. Some of his recent publications on these topics include the following:


Kevin C. Elliott, “Standardized Study Designs, Value Judgments, and Financial Conflicts of Interest,” Perspectives on Science 24 (2016): 529-551.

Kevin C. Elliott, “Environment,” in A.J. Angulo (ed.), Miseducation: A History of Ignorance Making in America and Abroad (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

Paul Mushak and Kevin C. Elliott, “Structured Promotion of a Research Field: Hormesis in Biology, Toxicology, and Environmental Regulatory Science,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal25 (2015): 335-367.

Kevin C. Elliott, “Selective Ignorance in Environmental Research,” in M. Groß and Linsey McGoey (eds.), Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies (London: Routledge, 2015), p. 165-173.