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Goodness and Reasons: Accentuating the Negative

Roger Crisp
Mind
New Series, Vol. 117, No. 466 (Apr., 2008), pp. 257-265
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Mind Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30163464
Page Count: 9
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Goodness and Reasons: Accentuating the Negative
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Abstract

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.

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