Heuer, Ulrike, and . Beyond Wrong Reasons: The Buck-Passing Account of Value

2010, in Michael Brady (ed.), New Waves in Metaethics, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke. 166-184.

Abstract: In section I, I will show that the Buck-Passing Account (BPA) is not as obviously a successor of the fitting-attitude analysis (for short: FA analysis) of value as some have thought. The much discussed wrong-kind-of-reasons (for short: WKR) problem afflicts buck-passing only in so far as it incorporates a version of Fitting Attitude (FA) analysis, or at any rate is expressed in terms of reasons for attitudes. There can be a buck-passing account of value which is not affected by the problem: one that limits the account to reasons for actions. However, insofar as BPA does inherit elements of FA analysis, it also has a WKR problem. In section II, I will discuss this problem and its solution. I will show that it has been misidentified in the current literature, and that – once we understand the problem correctly – its solution is likely to be unavailable to the buck-passer. Hence we should reject any account of BPA that incorporates FA analysis. That leaves us with versions which do not: versions that formulate BPA+ in terms of reasons for actions only, rather than reasons for attitudes. Finally, in section III, I will discuss at least briefly why buck-passing seemed to be appealing to begin with, and whether a version of BPA that does not incorporate FA analysis is a viable contender of the account – beyond the WKR problem.

Comment: Heuer argues in depth against the buck-passing account of value. She charges it with ruling out various theories, such as deontological theories of ethics and Williams-style reasons internalism, by fiat. Since many substantial areas are touched upon, such as 'fitting attitudes' and 'wrong kinds of reason' arguments, this text is best used as further reading for students who may want to write a related essay.