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Explaining Reasons: Where Does the Buck Stop?

by Ulrike Heuer

The buck-passing account of values offers an explanation of the close relation of values and reasons for action: of why it is that the question whether something that is of value provides reasons is not ”open.” Being of value simply is, its defenders claim, a property that something has in virtue of its having other reason-providing properties. The generic idea of buck-passing is that the property of being good or being of value does not provide reasons. It is other properties that do. There are, however, at least three versions of the account which differ in their understanding of those “other properties.” The first two versions both assume that non-normative properties provide reasons, the difference being that the second allows that normative properties also provide reasons. Both run into difficulties, which I explain, in trying to defend the claim that non-normative properties provide reasons for action. The third version of the buck-passing account which explains being of value in terms of more specific evaluative properties that are reason-providing remains unpersuasive as well. Once we understand the relation between general and specific properties as a difference in degree, there is no space for a reduction of the one kind of properties to the other. In section II I sketch an alternative account of the relation between reasons and values, which is based on a thesis that I call the Conceptual Link and the claim that values are not just co-extensive with reasons, but explain them.

ISSN 1559-3061
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