Debbie Roberts

Senior Lecturer

  • Philosophy
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Room 13.09

40 George Square, Edinburgh
Post code


  • Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 13.00-14.00


Debbie Roberts joined Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in 2014. She was a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of York from 2011-14. Before that, she was a teaching fellow at the University of Sussex. She completed her PhD at the University of Reading in 2011, supervised by Jonathan Dancy and Philip Stratton-Lake. Before moving to the UK to study for her PhD she was a lecturer in the School of Philosophy and Ethics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. 


  • 'Why Believe in Normative Supervenience?' Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13, ed. Russ Shafer-Landau
  • 'Thick Concepts'  in The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics, ed. Tristram McPherson and David Plunkett (Routledge)
  • 'Depending on the Thick'  in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplemetary Volume
  • 'Thick Epistemic Concepts' Forthcoming in Metaepistemology ed. Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way and Daniel Whiting (OUP)
  • Latest research publications

Professional service

  • Associate Editor, Analysis July 2016-September 2021
  • Mind Executive Committee July 2015-July 2020
  • BSET Director 2011-15

Responsibilities & affiliations


  • Deputy Head of Subject Area
  • Phil Skills Co-ordinator

Undergraduate teaching

  • Morality and value (1st yr)
  • Philosophical Naturalism (4th yr)
  • Philosophy of Action (4th yr)




Postgraduate teaching

  • Philosophical Naturalism


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am interested in supervising students working in metaethics and/or normative ethics, particularly on issues to do with realism, naturalism and nonnaturalism, the metaphysics of the normative (supervenience, explanation and grounding, for example) and thick concepts and the nature of evalution, and theory v anti-theory.

Current PhD students supervised

Brian Ness: Can Virtue Ethics provide the grounding for an AI-based tool capable of supporting human agents facing difficult ethical dilemmas?

Declan O' Gara: Epistemic and prudential companions-in-guilt arguments 

Research summary

Moral Philosophy, particularly metaethics and related areas.

Current research interests

Most of her research to date has been on thick evaluative concepts and the nature of the evalutive. Currently she is mainly working on issues to do with the metaphysics of the normative, including conceptions of naturalism and non-naturalism, grounding and supervenience, and in exploring certain parallels between metaethics and philosophy of maths. She's also working on the role of thick concepts in science. She's happy to consider proposals from research students wanting to work on any of these topics.