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I’m a ethicist and philosopher of science, with a broad background (physics and music). I mainly focus on the foundations of biological sciences (from ecology to cultural evolution) and on rehabilitating discarded insights about purpose, beauty, progress, and human nature. I also reflect on science in general: its social structures, underlying professionalism, and the way it presents itself to the broader public. 


My two main current projects are: (1) understanding what it means to view organism behaviour as agent-like (intentional, deliberative) in a Darwinian framework, (2) understanding how science should be communicated to the broader public, whether that involves communicating about particular subdomains (evolutionary theory, climate science) or about science itself (e.g. “trust the science”).


I'm currently affiliated with the Leibniz Universität Hannover as a postdoctoral researcher, and the University of Antwerp as a part-time assistant professor.


To get in touch: hugh.desmond [at]


  • Jan '23: The value-free ideal of science: a useful fiction? A review of non-epistemic reasons for the research integrity community" with Ambrosj, J., Dierickx, K.. Journal of Science and Engineering Ethics. link

  • Oct '22: Clinical Equipoise Still the Gold Standard for Randomized Clinical Trials? A Systematic Review of Reasons. with Folefac, Charlemagne. Clinical Ethics. link

  • Aug '22: Status Distrust in Experts. Published in Social Epistemology. link

  • Jun '22: "Reclaiming Care and Privacy in the Age of Social Media" for Values and Virtues in a Changing World (Jefferson et al., ed., Cambridge University Press)

upcoming talks
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