Institut Jean Nicod




Team Leader : Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde


The ECN-team “environment : concepts and norms” conducts interdisciplinary research on the conceptual structures underlying our spontaneous environmental cognition and on the institutional frameworks and norms (legal and economic) prevailing over our relationship to natural environments.

More particularly, the team focuses on the following themes and set of questions

  • The value of nature : whether, how, and why an assignment of economic value to natural entities can be performed. We study the limits of contingent valuation methodologies ; the scope and relevance of a "natural capital accounting" approach to protect biodiversity (in the influential context of the Dasgupta’s Review) ; whether it is possible to rank endangered species to implement conservation policies ; the theoretical foundations of the notion of ecosystem services, functions ; etc.
  • The status of nature : whether natural entities are objects or subjects, in the law, and in people’s minds. We critically assess the current legal moves towards nature’s juridical personification. We envision this and alternative possibilities in terms of their conceptual coherence, legal signification, and ecological efficiency. Rivers, the ocean, oceanic entities (as diverse as plankton or icebergs), glaciers, snow, atmospheric processes, plants, are considered from this legal-conceptual perspective.

  • Environmental cognition and ontology : Assignments of value and status are anchored in either naive or scientific cognitions and ontologies. Concerning the latter, the conceptual contributions of the team are embedded into high-level scientific projects : e.g. ocean-sciences, hydrology, climate sciences, botanics. Naive environmental ontologies are also indispensable to probe in order to maximize the fit between actual cognitive and behavioral tendencies and innovative institutional environment-driven design.




Statutory Members

PhD Students



  • MITI-CNRS OOSP - (Casati) 2020-2022
  • Range - ANR (Bourgeois-Gironde) 2021-2025
  • EnCoNorm - communautés PSL-EELISA (Casati) 2021-2023
  • BiOcean5D - The main objective of BIOcean5D is to generate the data, knowledge, theory, monitoring and modeling tools needed to sustainably measure, understand, assess and predict marine biodiversity in the 5 dimensions (5D) of space, time and human environmental pressure, to enable ecosystem management and long-term conservation.

    Within this project, one crucial work-package (WP6) is entrusted to ECN team. ECN will be directly involved in three main tasks.

1) Modelling the contribution of biological functions to the production of ecosystemic services in order to develop biodiversity value indices that integrate the functional relevance of species in an ecosystem. [Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, ECN - José Montoya, theoretical ecology, SETE, CNRS]

2) Merging economic valuation and deliberative methodologies in the assessment of marine ecosystems value [Bartosz Bartowski and Julian Massenberg Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, and Eva Wanek and Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, ECN]

3) Renewing concepts and paradigms in Ocean Governance and maritime legal frameworks [André Abreu, Tara Ocean, and Roberto Casati and Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, ECN].





  • Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde  : Invited Professor, Department of Law, University of Haifa, 2022-2023 : "Emerging Rights of Nature"



  • Roberto Casati, 2022 ed., The Sailing Mind, vol. 19, Studies in Brain and Mind Cham : Springer International Publishing 
  • Roberto Casati, Oceano : una navigazione filosofica, 2022, Giulio Einaudi editore
  • Bourgeois-Gironde, S. Etre la Rivière, PUF, 2020.