Wrongness and reasons

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (2):137 - 152 (2010)
Is the wrongness of an action a reason not to perform it? Of course it is, you may answer. That an action is wrong both explains and justifies not doing it. Yet, there are doubts. Thinking that wrongness is a reason is confused, so an argument by Jonathan Dancy. There can’t be such a reason if ‘ϕ-ing is wrong’ is verdictive, and an all things considered judgment about what (not) to do in a certain situation. Such judgments are based on all the relevant reasons for and against ϕ-ing. If that ϕ-ing is wrong, while being an all things considered verdict, would itself be a reason, it would upset the balance of reasons: it would be a further reason which has not yet been considered in reaching the verdict. Hence, the judgment wasn’t ‘all things considered' after all. I show that the argument against wrongness being a reason is unsuccessful, because its main assumption is false. Is main assumption is that a consideration which necessarily does not affect the balance of reasons is not a reason. I also argue that there can be no deontic buck-passing account.
Keywords Deontic buck-passing  Practical reasons  Wrongness  Buck-passing account of value  Jonathan Dancy
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DOI 10.2307/40602551
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Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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