Luke Elson

January 2024

I’m a philosopher at the University of Reading. My research and teaching are mostly in metaethics, normative ethics, and some related areas. Before joining Reading in 2014, I finished my PhD in Philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill. Before that I did my BA in Maths & Philosophy at Exeter College, Oxford. I grew up in Llanelli, a coastal town in South Wales.

Please find my CV (as a pdf) here.



Most of my published research focuses on a cluster of issues around incomplete preferences, unsharp or imprecise credences, and value incommensurability. In one sense of the word, two items are incommensurate if neither is better but they are also not precisely equally good. I’ve written a short introduction to incommensurability on its PhilPapers page.

Global Normative Nihilism

In more straightforwardly metaethical terrain, I have a number of unpublished papers defending Global Normative Nihilism, which is moral error theory’s more aggressive sibling. Not only categorical/external but also hypothetical/internal resons claims are false. I argue that this view avoids (or embraces) ‘companions in guilt’ responses to queerness arguments for the moral error theory, and that it offers radical conceptual as well as metaphysical simplicity. It is a depressing (nihilistic!) view, but I argue that it won’t lead to a complete loss of motivation or subjective concern, as some have argued.

Normative and Practical Ethics

Despite nihilistic tendencies, I have lately also become more interested in questions in normative or practical ethics.


In 2023-4 I’m teaching Meaning of Life (first year), Ethical Argument (second year), and Happy, Good, and Meaningful Lives (third year). I have in the past also taught epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and mediaeval philosophy.

Here are some documents for current students:

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