Mr Finian Worrall

Research project: An Ethics of Ecological Instability


My project investigates the idea of 'stability' in nature, critically interrogating ecological practices based on restoring 'balance' or 'harmony' to natural ecosystems. Although such concepts are often used by environmental agencies and policymakers, they owe less to empirical studies than ancient metaphysical assumptions about nature as homogenous, static, and teleological.

Many contemporary ecologists and philosophers prefer a dynamic and contingent view of nature drawn from process philosophy or advances in open-system non-equilibrium thermodynamics. But while a dynamic conception of nature is theoretically compelling, it offers little in the way of a foundation on which to build an ethical system. Environmental ethics, and to some degree Western ethics more generally, requires stable and homogenous subjects to make ethical laws. Does a dynamic conception of nature undermine environmental ethics, or is it possible to construct an ethical system that does not depend on 'stability'?

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: An Ethics of Ecological Instability
  • Research supervisor: Professor Howard Caygill


I completed my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 2018 at the University of Cape Town in English Studies. I came to London in 2019 and joined the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) where I completed a Master of Philosophical Studies in Philosophy in 2021 under the supervision of Prof. Catherine Malabou. During my MPhil I studied for a semester at Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis in 2020 which was taught and assessed in French.

I began my PhD at the CRMEP in 2022 with a Techne AHRC full studentship.

Areas of research interest

  • Modern European philosophy
  • Philosophy of science
  • Ecology
  • Environmental ethics
  • Metaphysics and ontology
  • French philosophy
  • Jacques Derrida


  • BA (Hons) in English Studies, University of Cape Town
  • MPhil in Philosophy, Kingston University

Funding or awards received

  • Techne AHRC Studentship (2022)