Nicolas Côté

Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method
London School of Economics & Political Science
Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE

Nicolas Côté

I'm a Phd student at the London School of Economics. I also have an MPhil in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge and a BA from McGill University. My research is mainly in normative ethics and social choice theory, but I also dabble in applied ethics and issues of practical rationality.


My dissertation work focuses on the measurement of freedom, especially on axiomatic approaches to the measurement question, and on how liberal concerns for protecting individual freedom interact with welfarist concerns for improving the general welfare. Both streams of my dissertation follow in the axiomatic tradition popular in social choice theory and in economics.


Recent Talks

"Liberalism and Social Choice", UGhent, Formal Ethics Conference, 19-21 June 2019, and LSE Choice Group, 14 November 2018. Based on this draft paper.

"Weakness of Will and the Measurement of Freedom", LSE Choice Group, 18 October 2017.


2020 "Weakness of Will and the Measurement of Freedom." Ethics. Article / Abstract

Many people believe that whether an option is available to you or not is an all-or-nothing matter: either it is or it isn't, and there's no in-between. This assumption carries over into how philosophers and economists have gone about trying to measure the extent of people's freedom. I argue for a novel approach to the measurement of freedom of choice, on which the availability of an option is a matter of degree. This approach is motivated by case studies involving weakness of will, where deficiencies in willpower seem to impair individual freedom by making certain alternatives much harder to pursue. This approach is perfectly general, however: its graded analysis of option availability can be extended to cases where weakness of will is not involved, and can be used to generalize numerous existing measures of freedom.


Class teaching at LSE

PH103: The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy.

PH222: Philosophy and Public Policy.


Choice-Group Starting 2019, I am co-organizer of the LSE's Choice Group. If you're a decision theorist or a formally inclined ethicist in the London area, check out our website and join our mailing list!