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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Simon Paul James, BSc, MA, PhD

Personal web page

Associate Professor/Deputy Director of DEC in the Department of Philosophy

(email at


I came to philosophy by a roundabout route, taking a BSc in Biological Sciences, followed by an MA in the History and Philosophy of Science, before obtaining a PhD for a thesis on environmental ethics in 2001. I am currently an Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Philosophy.

My work engages with a wide range of issues in environmental philosophy, from Buddhist approaches to wildlife conservation to our moral relations with rock formations, and from the (so-called) problem of animal minds to the virtue ethical question of whether a good life must be a green life.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing guitar and (with Helen and my daughter Emily) walking in wild (or wildish) places.

Office hours

By appointment

Undergraduate Teaching

Research Groups

Department of Philosophy

Research Interests

  • Environmental philosophy
  • Existential phenomenology
  • Buddhist philosophy

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • James, Simon P. (2015). Environmental Philosophy: An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • James, Simon. (2009). The Presence of Nature: A Study in Phenomenology and Environmental Philosophy. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Cooper, David E. & James, Simon P. (2005). Buddhism, Virtue and Environment. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • James, Simon P. (2004). Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Edited Journal

  • James, Simon P. & Cooper, David E. (2008). Buddhism and the Environment. Contemporary Buddhism, 8 (2): Taylor and Francis.

Chapter in book

  • James, Simon P. (2016). Phenomenology and the Charge of Anthropocentrism. In Nature and Experience: Phenomenology and the Environment. Bannon, Bryan Rowmann & Littlefield. 43-52.
  • James, Simon P. (2014). Green Managerialism and the Erosion of Meaning. In Old World and New World Perspectives on Environmental Philosophy: Transatlantic Conversations. Drenthen, M. & Keulartz, J. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 139-150.
  • James, Simon P. (2013). Buddhism and Environmental Ethics. In A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. Emmanuel, Steven M. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. 601-612.
  • James, Simon P. (2012). Conserving Nature's Meanings. In Embodied Values and the Environment. Brady, E. & Phemister, P. Springer.
  • James, Simon P. (2008). Asian Philosophy. In Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. Gale.

Journal Article

  • James, Simon P. (2020). Legal Rights and Nature's Contributions to People: Is There a Connection? Biological Conservation 241: 108325.
  • James, Simon P. (2019). Madhyamaka, Metaphysical Realism and the Possibility of an Ancestral World. Philosophy East and West 68(4): 1116-1133.
  • James, Simon P. (2019). Natural Meanings and Cultural Values. Environmental Ethics 41(1): 3-16.
  • James, Simon P. (2019). Nature's Indifference. Environmental Ethics 41(2): 115-128.
  • James, Simon P. (2019). Suffering and the Primacy of Virtue. Analysis 79(4): 605-613.
  • James, Simon P. (2018). Merleau-Ponty and Metaphysical Realism. European Journal of Philosophy 26(4): 1312-1323.
  • James, Simon P. (2016). Ecosystem Services and the Value of Places. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19(1): 101-113.
  • James, Simon P. (2016). Protecting Nature for the Sake of Human Beings. Ratio 29(2): 213-227.
  • James, Simon P. (2016). The Trouble with Environmental Values. Environmental Values 25(2): 131-144.
  • James, Simon P. (2015). Cultural Ecosystem Services: A Critical Assessment. Ethics, Policy & Environment 18(3): 338-350.
  • James, Simon P. (2015). Why Old Things Matter. Journal of Moral Philosophy 12(3): 313-329.
  • James, Simon P. (2014). “Nothing Truly Wild is Unclean” Muir, Misanthropy, and the Aesthetics of Dirt. Environmental Ethics 36(3): 357-363.
  • James, Simon P. (2013). Cherished Places and Ecosystem Services. Ethics, Policy & Environment 16(3): 264-266.
  • James, Simon P. (2013). Finding - and Failing to Find - Meaning in Nature. Environmental Values 22(5): 609-625.
  • James, Simon P. (2013). Philistinism and the Preservation of Nature. Philosophy 88(01): 101-114.
  • James, Simon P. (2011). For the Sake of a Stone? Inanimate Things and the Demands of Morality. Inquiry 54(4): 384-397.
  • James, Simon P. (2009). Phenomenology and the Problem of Animal Minds. Environmental Values 18(1): 33-49.
  • James, Simon P. (2007). Against Holism: Rethinking Buddhist Environmental Ethics. Environmental Values 16.
  • James, Simon P. (2007). Merleau-Ponty, Metaphysical Realism and the Natural World.*. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15(4): 501-519.
  • James Simon P. (2006). ‘Buddhism and the Ethics of Species Conservation’. Environmental Values 15(1): 85-97.
  • James, Simon P. (2006). Human Virtues and Natural Values. Environmental Ethics 28(4): 339-354.
  • James, Simon P. (2005). Awakening to Language in Heidegger and Zen. International Journal of Field Being 2(2).

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • James, S. P. (2015). The New Greenspeak. Earth Island Journal 30(1).

Other (Print)

  • James, Simon P. (2017). Conflict and Resolution (editorial for Environmental Values). 26(5): 535-538.
  • James, Simon P. (2016). Letting Nature take its Course (editorial for Environmental Values). Environmental Values 25(4): i-iv.

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Education & awareness: Environmental ethics
  • Ethics: Environmental ethics
  • Philosophy: Environmental ethics
  • Religion: Environmental ethics