About this topic
Summary The general theme of this category is the idea of defining, analyzing or otherwise explaining one kind of evaluative or normative concept or property in terms of another kind of evaluative or normative concept or property. This broad idea is commonly referred to as the fitting attitude account of value, because its early proponents suggested defining value in terms of concepts such as fittingness or correctness of attitudes, e.g., 'x is good' as 'x is a fitting object of a favourable attitude' (Ewing), or 'it is correct to love x' (Brentano). Subsequent accounts used analogous concepts such as 'contemplation of x requires that one favor x' (Chisholm, Lemos). Thomas Scanlon revived this tradition by proposing that x's goodness be understood as the property of having other properties which provide reasons to value x in one or more different ways (admire, care for, protect, etc.). He named his account 'buck-passing' to signal that the property of goodness itself does not provide reasons to value what is good, but 'passes the normative buck' to the other properties which the good thing has and make it good. In this sense the buck-passing account is an intra-normative reductive account of value properties or concepts. The same structure can be applied to other normative notions, e.g. some propose to understand all normative concepts in terms of reasons (or fitting attitudes), including moral ones such as rightness and  wrongness. The debate has centered around some difficulties for the fitting attitude/buck-passing account, such as the so called wrong kind of reasons problem (WKR). If a demon orders me to admire a saucer of mud (for its own sake), or else humankind will go extinct, it seems there are very good reasons for me to admire the saucer of mud, but this cannot mean that the saucer of mud is good or valuable (for its own sake). A vast number of papers have contributed by either proposing refinements to the analysis to avoid such counterexamples or by criticizing such refinements.
Key works Early fitting attitude style analysis can be found in Sidgwick 1874 ('ought to desire'), Brentano 1889/1969 ('correct love'), but it is A.C.Ewing (Ewing 1948) who develops it systematically (1947), and then refines it in Ewing 1959, indeed anticipating Scanlon's buck-passing account in terms of reasons (Scanlon 1998, chapter 2). Other notable works, focusing on the concept of requirement, are Chisholm 1986, Lemos 1994, Zimmerman 2001. Key papers on the wrong kind of reason problem are Crisp 2000, Jacobson 2000 and Rabinowicz & Rønnow‐Rasmussen 2004. For some responses, see: Stratton‐Lake 2005, Skorupski 2007, Olson 2004, Danielsson & Olson 2007, Schroeder 2010. For papers dealing with issues different from the WKR problem, see Väyrynen 2006, Bykvist 2009, Olson 2009. Articles which serve well as introductions as well as highlighting difficulties for the fitting attitude account are: Dancy 2000, Zimmermann 2007.
Introductions Jacobson 2011, Suikkanen 2009, Stratton-Lake & Hooker 2006, Dancy 2000, Rabinowicz & Rønnow‐Rasmussen 2004
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  1. New Waves in Metaethics.Michael Brady (ed.) - 2011 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Metaethics occupies a central place in analytical philosophy, and the last forty years has seen an upsurge of interest in questions about the nature and practice of morality. This collection presents original and ground-breaking research on metaethical issues from some of the very best of a new generation of philosophers working in this field.
  2. Value and Fitting Emotions.Michael S. Brady - 2008 - Journal of Value Inquiry 42 (4):465-475.
  3. Goodness, Values, Reasons.Johan Brännmark - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (4):329-343.
    Contemporary value theory has been characterized by a renewed interest in the analysis of concepts like "good" or "valuable", the most prominent pattern of analysis in recent years being the socalled buck-passing or fitting-attitude analysis which reduces goodness to a matter of having properties that provide reasons for pro-attitudes. Here I argue that such analyses are best understood as metaphysical rather than linguistic and that while the buck-passing analysis has some virtues, it still fails to provide a suitably wide-ranging pattern (...)
  4. L'origine de la connaissance morale (1889).Franz Brentano - 1990 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 95 (1):3 - 32.
  5. The Foundation and Construction of Ethics.Franz Brentano - 1973 - Routledge.
    Expanding on the theory of ethics first posited by Brentano in The Origin of our Knowledge of Right and Wrong this re-issued work, first published posthumously in 1952, is based on series of lectures on practical philosophy, given at the university of Vienna from 1876 to 1894. The English-speaking reader will find it interesting to examine the step-by-step development of Brentano’s ethical theory, his extensive critique of British moral philosophers, and his unusually detailed section on casuistry.
  6. Grundlegung und Aufbau der Ethik.Franz Brentano - 1952 - Francke.
    Erstmals 1951 publiziert, bilden die Vorlesungen über die Grundlagen und den Aufbau der Ethik ein geschlossenes und harmonisches Ganzes. Der Band geht zurück auf ein im Wintersemester 1876 niedergeschriebenes Manuskript, das Brentano 1894 als Kolleg an der Universität Wien vortrug.
  7. The Origin of Our Knowledge of Right and Wrong.Franz Brentano - 1889/1969 - Routledge.
    First published in 1969. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
  8. Vom Ursprung Sittlicher Erkenntnis.Franz Brentano - 1889 - Duncker Und Humblot.
    Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis. Ein Vortrag. Brentano, Vom Ursprung sittl, Erkenntnis, 1 I. Die Einladung zu einem Vortrage, welche die Iuristische Gesellschaft Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis Ein Vortrag Seite Wert der Geschichte und ...
  9. Certain Features in Moore's Ethical Doctrines.C. D. Broad - 1942 - In P. A. Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of G. E. Moore. Evanston & Chicago.
  10. Fitting-Attitude Analyses and the Relation Between Final and Intrinsic Value.Antoine C. Dussault - 2014 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 9 (2):166-189.
    This paper examines the debate as to whether something can have final value in virtue of its relational (i.e., non-intrinsic) properties, or, more briefly put, whether final value must be intrinsic. The paper adopts the perspective of the fitting-attitude analysis (FA analysis) of value, and argues that from this perspective, there is no ground for the requirement that things may have final value only in virtue of their intrinsic properties, but that there might be some grounds for the alternate requirement (...)
  11. Fittingness: The Sole Normative Primitive.Richard Yetter Chappell - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):684 - 704.
    This paper draws on the 'Fitting Attitudes' analysis of value to argue that we should take the concept of fittingness (rather than value) as our normative primitive. I will argue that the fittingness framework enhances the clarity and expressive power of our normative theorising. Along the way, we will see how the fittingness framework illuminates our understanding of various moral theories, and why it casts doubt on the Global Consequentialist idea that acts and (say) eye colours are normatively on a (...)
  12. J. J. Kupperman, Value … And What Follows, New York, OUP, 1999, Pp. Vi + 168.Timothy Chappell - 2001 - Utilitas 13 (3):373.
  13. Defining Intrinsic Value.R. M. Chisholm - 2005 - In Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen & Michael J. Zimmerman (eds.), Recent Work on Intrinsic Value. Springer. pp. 15--16.
  14. Brentano's Theory of Correct and Incorrect Emotion.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1966 - Revue Interntionale de Philosophie 20 (4):395-415.
  15. An Augmented Buck-Passing Account of Reasons and Value: Scanlon and Crisp on What Stops the Buck.Philip Cook - 2008 - Utilitas 20 (4):490-507.
    Roger Crisp has inspired two important criticisms of Scanlon's buck-passing account of value. I defend buck-passing from the wrong kind of reasons criticism, and the reasons and the good objection. I support Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen's dual role of reasons in refuting the wrong kind of reasons criticism, even where its authors claim it fails. Crisp's reasons and the good objection contends that the property of goodness is buck-passing in virtue of its formality. I argue that Crisp conflates general and formal (...)
  16. Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen, Personal Value. [REVIEW]Christian Coons - 2012 - Ethics 123 (1):183-188.
  17. Goodness and Reasons: Accentuating the Negative.Roger Crisp - 2008 - Mind 117 (466):257-265.
    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 (...)
  18. Value, Reasons and the Structure of Justification: How to Avoid Passing the Buck.Roger Crisp - 2005 - Analysis 65 (1):80–85.
  19. Value and the Regulation of the Sentiments.Justin D'Arms - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):3-13.
    “Sentiment” is a term of art, intended to refer to object-directed, irruptive states, that occur in relatively transient bouts involving positive or negative affect, and that typically involve a distinctive motivational profile. Not all the states normally called “emotions” are sentiments in the sense just characterized. And all the terms for sentiments are sometimes used in English to refer to longer lasting attitudes. But this discussion is concerned with boutish affective states, not standing attitudes. That poses some challenges that will (...)
  20. Should We Pass the Buck?Jonathan Dancy - 2000 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 47:159-173.
    My topic is the relation between the right and the good. I introduce it by relating some aspects of the debate between various British intuitionists in the first half of the present century. In Principia Ethica G. E. Moore claimed that to be right is to be productive of the greatest good. He wrote ‘This use of “right”, as denoting what is good as a means, whether or not it be also good as an end, is indeed the use to (...)
  21. Brentano and the Buck-Passers.Sven Danielsson & Jonas Olson - 2007 - Mind 116 (463):511 - 522.
    According to T. M. Scanlon's 'buck-passing' analysis of value, x is good means that x has properties that provide reasons to take up positive attitudes vis-à-vis x. Some authors have claimed that this idea can be traced back to Franz Brentano, who said in 1889 that the judgement that x is good is the judgement that a positive attitude to x is correct ('richtig'). The most discussed problem in the recent literature on buckpassing is known as the 'wrong kind of (...)
  22. Sidgwick, Concern, and the Good.Stephen Darwall - 2000 - Utilitas 12 (3):291.
    Sidgwick maintains, plausibly, that the concept of a person's good is a normative one and takes for granted that it is normative for the agent's own choice and action. I argue that the normativity of a person's good must be understood in relation to concern for someone for that person's own sake. A person's good, I suggest, is what one should want for that person in so far as one cares about him, or what one should want for him for (...)
  23. Fragen Und Einwände an Die Adresse der Anhänger von Franz Brentanos Ethik.Christian von Ehrenfels - 1988 - In Christian von Ehrenfels & Reinhard Fabian (eds.), Psychologie. Ethik. Erkenntnistheorie. Philosophische Schriften. Band 3. Philosophia. pp. 206–219.
  24. Reasons, Dispositions, and Value.Aaron P. Elliott - 2017 - Philosophers' Imprint 17.
    In this paper, I will discuss an objection to Buck-Passing accounts of value, such as Reasons Fundamentalism. Buck-Passing views take value to be derivative of or reducible to reasons. The objection is that since there can be value in possible worlds in which there are no reasons, value must not be ontologically derivative of reasons. Thus, BP is false. In this paper, I show that by accepting a dispositionalist revision, BP can allow such worlds while maintaining that reasons are interestingly (...)
  25. Resisting Buck-Passing Accounts of Prudential Value.Guy Fletcher - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 157 (1):77-91.
    This paper aims to cast doubt upon a certain way of analysing prudential value (or good for ), namely in the manner of a ‘buck-passing’ analysis. It begins by explaining why we should be interested in analyses of good for and the nature of buck-passing analyses generally (§I). It moves on to considering and rejecting two sets of buck-passing analyses. The first are analyses that are likely to be suggested by those attracted to the idea of analysing good for in (...)
  26. The Right and the Wrong Kind of Reasons.Jan Gertken & Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (5):e12412.
    In a number of recent philosophical debates, it has become common to distinguish between two kinds of normative reasons, often called the right kind of reasons (henceforth: RKR) and the wrong kind of reasons (henceforth: WKR). The distinction was first introduced in discussions of the so-called buck-passing account of value, which aims to analyze value properties in terms of reasons for pro-attitudes and has been argued to face the wrong kind of reasons problem. But nowadays it also gets applied in (...)
  27. A Very Good Reason to Reject the Buck-Passing Account.Alex Gregory - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (2):287-303.
    This paper presents a new objection to the buck-passing account of value. I distinguish the buck-passing account of predicative value from the buck-passing account of attributive value. According to the latter, facts about attributive value reduce to facts about reasons and their weights. But since facts about reasons’ weights are themselves facts about attributive value, this account presupposes what it is supposed to explain. As part of this argument, I also argue against Mark Schroeder's recent account of the weights of (...)
  28. Value-Preference Symmetry and Fitting-Attitude Accounts of Value Relations.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2013 - Philosophical Quarterly 63 (252):476-491.
    Joshua Gert and Wlodek Rabinowicz have developed frameworks for value relations that are rich enough to allow for non-standard value relations such as parity. Yet their frameworks do not allow for any non-standard preference relations. In this paper, I shall defend a symmetry between values and preferences, namely, that for every value relation, there is a corresponding preference relation, and vice versa. I claim that if the arguments that there are non-standard value relations are cogent, these arguments, mutatis mutandis, also (...)
  29. Fitting Attitudes and Welfare.Chris Heathwood - 2008 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 3:47-73.
    The purpose of this paper is to present a new argument against so-called fitting attitude analyses of intrinsic value, according to which, roughly, for something to be intrinsically good is for there to be reasons to want it for its own sake. The argument is indirect. First, I submit that advocates of a fitting-attitude analysis of value should, for the sake of theoretical unity, also endorse a fitting-attitude analysis of a closely related but distinct concept: the concept of intrinsic value (...)
  30. Beyond Wrong Reasons: The Buck-Passing Account of Value.Ulrike Heuer - 2010 - In Michael Brady (ed.), New Waves in Metaethics. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  31. Raz on Values and Reasons.Ulrike Heuer - 2004 - In R. Jay Wallace, Philipp Pettit, Samuel Scheffler & Michael Smith (eds.), Reason and Value. Oxford University Press.
  32. The Wrong Kind of Reason.Pamela Hieronymi - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (9):437 - 457.
    A good number of people currently thinking and writing about reasons identify a reason as a consideration that counts in favor of an action or attitude.1 I will argue that using this as our fundamental account of what a reason is generates a fairly deep and recalcitrant ambiguity; this account fails to distinguish between two quite different sets of considerations that count in favor of certain attitudes, only one of which are the “proper” or “appropriate” kind of reason for them. (...)
  33. The Wrong Kind of Reasons.Nye Howard - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. New York: Routledge. pp. 340-354.
  34. Fitting Attitude Theories of Value.Daniel Jacobson - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  35. Fitting Attitudes, Welfare, and Time.Jens Johansson - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (3):247-256.
    Chris Heathwood has recently put forward a novel and ingenious argument against the view that intrinsic value is analyzable in terms of fitting attitudes. According to Heathwood, this view holds water only if the related but distinct concept of welfare—intrinsic value for a person —can be analyzed in terms of fitting attitudes too. Moreover, he argues against such an analysis of welfare by appealing to the rationality of our bias towards the future. In this paper, I argue that so long (...)
  36. Two Kinds of Ethical Intuitionism: Brentano’s and Reid's.Olson Jonas - 2017 - The Monist 100 (1):106-119.
    This paper explores Franz Brentano’s metaethics by comparing it to Thomas Reid’s. Brentano and Reid share a commitment to moral realism and they are both aptly classified as intuitionists concerning moral knowledge and the nature of moral judgment. However, their respective versions of intuitionism are importantly different, in ways that reflect more general differences between their respective epistemological views. Sections III and IV of the paper focus more exclusively on Brentano’s metaethics and some of its unorthodox features. These features tie (...)
  37. How Not to Solve the Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem.Christos Kyriacou - 2013 - Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (1-2):101-110.
    Ulrike Heuer (2011) has recently revisited ‘the wrong kind of reasons’ (WKR) problem for buckpassing accounts of value. She suggests that, insofar we want to avoid the problem, we have to abandon orthodox buckpassing accounts that incorporate a fitting attitude analysis of value. Instead, she proposes that we could do with a novel buckpassing account couched in terms of reasons for action. The aim of this paper is to show that the problem both remains in its original form, that is, (...)
  38. The Right Kind of Solution to the Wrong Kind of Reason Problem.Gerald Lang - 2008 - Utilitas 20 (4):472-489.
    Recent discussion of Scanlon's account of value, which analyses the value of X in terms of agents' reasons for having certain pro-attitudes or contra-attitudes towards X, has generated the problem (WKR problem): this is the problem, for the buck-passing view, of being able to acknowledge that there may be good reasons for attributing final value to X that have nothing to do with the final value that X actually possesses. I briefly review some of the existing solutions offered to the (...)
  39. The Buck-Passing Account of Value: Lessons From Crisp.S. Matthew Liao - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (3):421 - 432.
    T. M. Scanlon's buck-passing account of value (BPA) has been subjected to a barrage of criticisms. Recently, to be helpful to BPA, Roger Crisp has suggested that a number of these criticisms can be met if one makes some revisions to BPA. In this paper, I argue that if advocates of the buck-passing account accepted these revisions, they would effectively be giving up the buck-passing account as it is typically understood, that is, as an account concerned with the conceptual priority (...)
  40. Correct Responses and the Priority of the Normative.Jennie Louise - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (4):345-364.
    The ‘Wrong Kind of Reason’ problem for buck-passing theories (theories which hold that the normative is explanatorily or conceptually prior to the evaluative) is to explain why the existence of pragmatic or strategic reasons for some response to an object does not suffice to ground evaluative claims about that object. The only workable reply seems to be to deny that there are reasons of the ‘wrong kind’ for responses, and to argue that these are really reasons for wanting, trying, or (...)
  41. The Development of Franz Brentano's Ethics.Linda L. McAlister - 1982 - Rodopi.
  42. Fittingness First.Conor McHugh & Jonathan Way - 2016 - Ethics 126 (3):575-606.
    According to the fitting-attitudes account of value, for X to be good is for it to be fitting to value X. But what is it for an attitude to be fitting? A popular recent view is that it is for there to be sufficient reason for the attitude. In this paper we argue that proponents of the fitting-attitudes account should reject this view and instead take fittingness as basic. In this way they avoid the notorious ‘wrong kind of reason’ problem, (...)
  43. Über Werthaltung Und Wert.Alexius Meinong - 1895 - Archiv für Systematische Philosophie 1:327–346.
  44. The Buck-Passing Stops Here.Andrew Moore - 2012 - In Rationis Defensor.
    Thomas Scanlon influentially argues that, in the provision of reasons to act or believe, goodness and value ‘pass the buck’ to other properties. This paper first extends his arguments: if Scanlon shows that goodness and value pass the buck, then relevantly analogous arguments show that, contrary to Scanlon, duty and wrongness too pass this same buck. The paper then reverses Scanlon’s buck-passing arguments: if they show that goodness and value pass the reason-providing buck, then reasons themselves also pass the buck (...)
  45. Ethics, Fitting Attitudes, and Practical Reason: A Theory of Normative Facts.Howard Nye - 2009 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    I present and defend (1) an account of ethical judgments as judgments about our reasons to feel specific motivationally laden attitudes, (2) an account of what an agent should do in terms of what would achieve ends that she has reason to be motivated to pursue, and (3) an account of an agent’s reasons for motivation (and thus action) in terms of the prescriptions of the most fundamental principles that guide her deliberations. Using these accounts, I explain the connection between (...)
  46. Reason-Based Value or Value-Based Reasons?Sven Nyholm - 2006 - In Björn Haglund & Helge Malmgren (eds.), Kvantifikator För En Dag. Essays Dedicated to Dag Westerståhl on His Sixtieth Birthday. Philosophical Communications. pp. 193-202.
    In this paper, I discuss practical reasons and value, assuming a coexistence thesis according to which reasons and value always go together. I start by doing some taxonomy, distinguishing among three different ways of accounting for the relation between practical reasons and the good. I argue that, of these views, the most plausible one is that according to which something’s being good just consists in how certain facts about the thing in question – other than that of how it is (...)
  47. Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Partiality, Preferences and Perspective.Graham Oddie - 2014 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 9 (2):57-81.
    A rather promising value theory for environmental philosophers combines the well-known fitting attitude (FA) account of value with the rather less well-known account of value as richness. If the value of an entity is proportional to its degree of richness (which has been cashed out in terms of unified complexity and organic unity), then since natural entities, such as species or ecosystems, exhibit varying degrees of richness quite independently of what we happen to feel about them, they also possess differing (...)
  48. Brentano's Metaethics.Jonas Olson - forthcoming - In U. Kriegel (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Brentano and the Brentano School. Routledge.
  49. The Wrong Kind of Solution to the Wrong Kind of Reason Problem.Jonas Olson - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (2):225-232.
    The so-called Wrong Kind of Reason (WKR) problem for Scanlon's account of value has been much discussed recently. In a recent issue of Utilitas Gerald Lang provides a highly useful critique of extant proposed solutions to the WKR problem and suggests a novel solution of his own. In this note I offer a critique of Lang's solution and respond to some criticisms Lang directs at a Brentano-style approach suggested by Sven Danielsson and me.
  50. Fitting Attitude Analyses of Value and the Partiality Challenge.Jonas Olson - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (4):365-378.
    According to ‘Fitting Attitude’ (FA) analyses of value, for an object to be valuable is for that object to have properties—other than its being valuable—that make it a fitting object of certain responses. In short, if an object is positively valuable it is fitting to favour it; if an object is negatively valuable it is fitting to disfavour it. There are several variants of FA analyses. Some hold that for an object to be valuable is for it to be such (...)
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