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Luke Elson
University of Reading
  1. Borderline Cases and the Collapsing Principle.Luke Elson - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (1):51-60.
    John Broome has argued that value incommensurability is vagueness, by appeal to a controversial about comparative indeterminacy. I offer a new counterexample to the collapsing principle. That principle allows us to derive an outright contradiction from the claim that some object is a borderline case of some predicate. But if there are no borderline cases, then the principle is empty. The collapsing principle is either false or empty.
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  2. Incommensurability as vagueness: a burden-shifting argument.Luke Elson - 2017 - Theoria 83 (4):341-363.
    Two options are ‘incommensurate’ when neither is better than the other, but they are not equally good. Typically, we will say that one option is better in some ways, and the other in others, but neither is better ‘all things considered’. It is tempting to think that incommensurability is vagueness—that it is (perhaps) indeterminate which is better—but this ‘vagueness view’ of incommensurability has not proven popular. I set out the vagueness view and its implications in more detail, and argue that (...)
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  3. Probabilistic promotion and ability.Luke Elson - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    We often have some reason to do actions insofar as they promote outcomes or states of affairs, such as the satisfaction of a desire. But what is it to promote an outcome? I defend a new version of 'probabilism about promotion'. According to Minimal Probabilistic Promotion, we promote some outcome when we make that outcome more likely than it would have been if we had done something (anything) else. This makes promotion easy and reasons cheap.
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  4. Tenenbaum and Raffman on Vague Projects, the Self-Torturer, and the Sorites.Luke Elson - 2016 - Ethics 126 (2):474-488.
    Sergio Tenenbaum and Diana Raffman contend that ‘vague projects’ motivate radical revisions to orthodox, utility-maximising rational choice theory. Their argument cannot succeed if such projects merely ground instances of the paradox of the sorites, or heap. Tenenbaum and Raffman are not blind to this, and argue that Warren Quinn’s Puzzle of the Self-Torturer does not rest on the sorites. I argue that their argument both fails to generalise to most vague projects, and is ineffective in the case of the Self-Torturer (...)
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  5.  64
    No point of view except ours?Luke Elson - forthcoming - Topoi.
    I argue that it’s quite comprehensible to get upset about metaethical nihilism, to indulge what I call nihilistic despair. When we lose the objective moral or normative point of view, we lose the promise of luck-immune guidance and categorical importance, things many of us hope for. This is all quite Williams-friendly, but I reject his puzzling but suggestive remarks that nihilistic despair must be a self-pitying muddle. Finally, I argue that internalism about reasons is even more depressing than outright nihilism, (...)
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  6. Can Streumer simply avoid supervenience?Luke Elson - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (3):259-267.
    In his defence of an error theory for normative judgements, Bart Streumer presents a new 'reduction' argument against nonreductive normative realism. Streumer claims that unlike previous versions, his 'simple moral theory' version of the argument doesn’t rely on the supervenience of the normative on the descriptive. But this is incorrect; without supervenience the argument does not succeed.
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  7.  47
    What does incommensurability tell us about agency?Luke Elson - 2021 - In H. Andersson & A. Herlitz (eds.), Value Incommensurability: Ethics, Risk, and Decision-Making. New York: Routledge. pp. 181-198.
    Ruth Chang and Joseph Raz have both drawn far-reaching consequences for agency from the phenomenon of incommensurability. After criticizing their arguments, I outline an alternative view: if incommensurability is vagueness, then there are no substantial implications for agency, except perhaps a limited form of naturalistic voluntarism if our reasons are provided by desires.
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  8. From Valuing to Value: A Defense of Subjectivism By David Sobel. [REVIEW]Luke Elson - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):583-586.
    Book review of David Sobel's "From Valuing to Value: A Defense of Subjectivism".
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