Elsa Kugelberg

Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow, Nuffield College.

Research Topic:

Sex, social norms and contractualism
Political Theory Network
Nuffield College

I am a political philosopher and a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow in Politics (political theory) at Nuffield College. I specialise in normative political theory, researching theories of justice, feminism, and philosophy and public policy.

My main research interests can be divided into three main subfields. The first concerns the relationship between politics and intimacy. I am particularly interested in how theories of justice handle the interactions between the intimate spheres, such as the sexual domain, and the public sphere. In my current book project, I draw on empirical research and social theory to develop a liberal egalitarian theory of social justice for the sexual sphere.

The second is situated in the ethics and political theory of digital technology. In this project, I explore if and how intimate tech, such as dating apps, should be regulated. This project also aims to outline the duties of the state, tech corporations, and users, in relation to such technology.

The third concerns contractualism as a moral and political theory. In particular, I explore the ethical and political implications of understanding what we owe to each other as dependent on our social context. One of my projects outlines the duties of policymakers in a pandemic, under conditions of uncertainty, and under conditions of unjust social norms.

I hold a DPhil in Politics (political theory) from the University of Oxford. While studying for this degree, which was generously supported by the United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council, I spent two years at Stanford University's McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. I also hold an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics, and a BSc in Politics and Law from the University of Uppsala.

I have previously worked as an editor at a publishing house focused on philosophy and popular science. Before that, I was a speech writer and a political advisor on foreign affairs, EU affairs, and defence policy in the Swedish parliament. Since 2013, I regularly write (essays, columns and critique) for Scandinavia's largest morning daily, Dagens Nyheter.

I am the co-organiser of the Nuffield Workshop in Political Theory.

Elsa Kugelberg


(2022). "Public justification, gender, and the family" European Journal of Political Theory. (with H Kugelberg).

(2022). 'Social norms, contractualism and public policy: How gender affects epidemiology' LSE Philosophy Blog, March 2022.

(2021). "Responsibility for reality: Social norms and the value of constrained choice". Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 20(4):357-384. 

(2021). "Values for victims and vectors of disease". Journal of Medical Ethics.

(2020). 'Förord' in Kate Manne, Duktig flicka. Stockholm: Fri tanke. Foreword to the Swedish translation of Down girl.