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An Augmented Buck-Passing Account of Reasons and Value: Scanlon and Crisp on What Stops the Buck

  • PHILIP COOK (a1)


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 properties, and that Scanlon is ambiguous about whether the formal property of a reason can stop the buck. Drawing from Wallace, I respond to Crisp's reasons and the good objection by developing an augmented buck-passing account of reasons and value, where the buck is passed consistently from the formal properties of both to the substantive properties of considerations and evaluative attitudes. I end by describing two unresolved problems for buck-passers.



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1 See Crisp, Roger, ‘Review of Kupperman, Value . . . and What Follows’, Philosophy 75 (2000), pp. 458–92, and Crisp, Roger, ‘Value, Reasons and the Structure of Justification: How to Avoid Passing the Buck’, Analysis 65 (2005), pp. 80–5.

2 Crisp, ‘Review of Kupperman’, p. 459.

3 Stratton-Lake, Philip, ‘How to Deal with Evil Demons: Comment on Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen’, in Ethics 115 (2005), pp. 788–98.

4 Stratton-Lake, ‘How to Deal with Evil Demons’, p. 93.

5 Scanlon, T. M., What We Owe to Each Other (Cambridge, Mass., 1998), p. 51.

6 Roger Crisp, ‘Value, Reasons and the Structure of Justification’, p. 84.

7 Wallace, R. Jay, ‘Scanlon's Contractualism’, Ethics 112, (2002), pp. 429–70.

8 Scanlon, What We Owe to Each Other, p. 97.

9 Scanlon, T. M., ‘Reason, Responsibility, and Reliance: Replies to Wallace, Dworkin, and Deigh’, Ethics 112 (2002), p. 513.

10 Wallace, ‘Scanlon's Contractualism’, p. 447.

11 Wallace, ‘Scanlon's Contractualism’, p. 446.

12 Wallace, ‘Scanlon's Contractualism’, pp. 446–7.

13 See Väyrynen, Pekka, ‘Resisting the Buck-Passing Account of Value’, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 1, ed. Shafer-Landau, Russ (Oxford, 2006), p. 301, and Rabinowicz, Wlodek and Rønnow-Rasmussen, Toni, ‘The Strike of the Demon: On Fitting Pro-attitudes and Value’, Ethics 114 (2004), p. 407.

14 This determination problem differs from the constitution problem, because the constitution problem concerns the nature of the relationship between properties and reasons/attitudes, whereas the determination problem accepts that this general problem has been accounted for but asks how we distinguish particular reasons and attitudes. Of course, our answer to the constitution problem may enable us to determine the reasons/attitudes, but this remains to be seen.

15 Väyrynen, ‘Resisting the Buck-Passing Account of Value’, p. 305.

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  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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