Goodness and reasons: Accentuating the negative

Mind 117 (466):257-265 (2008)
This paper concerns the relation between goodness, or value, and practical reasons, and in particular the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account (BPA) of that relation recently offered by T. M. Scanlon, according to which goodness is not reason-providing but merely the higher-order property of possessing lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond in certain ways. The paper begins by briefly describing BPA and the motivation for it, noting that Scanlon now accepts that the lower-order properties in question may be evaluative. He also insists that the BPA is not biconditional (wisely, since otherwise goodness becomes a ‘Cambridge property’), which leaves him with the task of explaining why goodness arises only in a sub-set of cases in which lower-order properties ground reasons. Having rejected two attempts to do this, based on elucidation of the responses and of the reasons, I suggest that Scanlon may claim that goodness arises in, and only in, cases where the lower-order properties are evaluative and that goodness itself provides us with a way of distinguishing the evaluative from the non-evaluative. In other words, he should retain the negative component of BPA, according to which being good is not itself reason-providing, while surrendering the positive, according to which the property of goodness is merely the higher-order property of having lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond. CiteULike    Connotea    What's this?
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    Andrew Reisner (2009). Abandoning the Buck Passing Analysis of Final Value. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (4):379 - 395.
    Leonard Kahn (2011). Moral Blameworthiness and the Reactive Attitudes. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):131-142.

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