Luke Elson

University of Reading
Department of Philosophy


I’m a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Reading. I finished my PhD in 2014 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


I have three main research projects:

Austere and Mushy Reasons. I’m interested in Humean or internalist accounts of reasons, especially in what these ‘austere’ theories say about our place in the world, and how much they—together with phenomena such as indeterminacy or vagueness—can explain phenomena such as the Incommensurability of Value (PhilPapers link – suggestions welcome!).

Impartialist Satisficing. Satisficing consequentialism is a natural response to ‘demandingness’ worries that beset its maximising cousins, but it has proved rather unpopular. Most defences of satisficing have adopted ‘agent-relative’ versions of the view, but I defend a full-blown agent-neutral satisficing normative theory.

Climate Rationality. This is an outgrowth of the first project. Many of us agree that climate change has ethical implications, but there has (so far as I can see) been less study of its rational implications, particularly as they concern vagueness: how can it be rational to forego a flight now, to mitigate climate change in fifty years, even as we admit that each flight has negligible climate effect? And can this question be answered publicly?


  1. Tenenbaum and Raffaman on Vague Projects, the Self-Torturer, and the Sorites
    Ethics Vol. 126, No. 2 (January 2016), pp. 474–488. doi:10.1086/683533.

  2. Heaps and Chains: is the Chaining Argument for Parity a Sorites?
    Ethics Vol. 124, No. 3 (April 2014), pp. 557–571.

  3. Borderline Cases and the Collapsing Principle
    Utilitas (2014): volume 26, issue 01, pp. 51–60. (Copyright belongs to Cambridge University Press, and the journal may be found online here.)