Value, Reasons, and Oughts

In Maria E. Reicher & Johan C. Marek (eds.), Experience and Analysis, The Proceedings of the 27th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Öbv&hpt (2005)
What’s the relation between values and reasons for action ? According to some all reasons are grounded in values. If one adds to this the thought that values themselves depend on non-evaluative or factual features of things, one gets what one can call after Jonathan Dancy the “layer-cake conception”. According to others, we should replace the layer-cake picture by what he calls the “buck-passing account of values” (Scanlon 1998). The main characteristic of this conception is that it denies that reasons are grounded in values. This is not because some reasons would not be grounded in values. Rather, Scanlon’s claim is that values cannot ground reasons. I shall argue that Scanlon’s conception does not get things right: his account of values amounts in fact to a normative or deontic definition of the evaluative.
Keywords Values  Reasons  Buck-passing account
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