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Resolving the Wrong Kind of Reason Problem
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2013 (English)In: Swedish Congress of Philosophy 2013 = Filosofidagarna : 14-16 june, 2013: Abstracts, Stockholm: Kungl. tekniska högskolan , 2013, 177-178 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The wrong kind of reason problem (WKRP) has been presented as a problem for T. M. Scanlon’s ‘buck-passing account of value’ (BPA) (e.g. Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen, 2004:393). According to this account, ‘being good, or valuable, is not a property that itself provides a reason to respond to a thing in certain ways. Rather, to be good or valuable is to have other properties that constitute such reasons’ (Scanlon 1998:97). Now, WKRP arises because some objects which clearly lack value yet seem to have properties that constitute such reasons. If there are such objects, BPA can be upheld only if it can be shown that in these cases the reasons are of the wrong kind, in the sense that the properties which constitute them do not give rise to corresponding values of the objects which possess them. Hence, the challenge that WKRP poses for buck-passers is commonly understood as the challenge of convincingly explaining the difference between reasons of the wrong kind and reasons of the right kind. There have been several proposals for solution to WKRP, but all of them have been exposed to objections (see e.g. Lang, 2008; Olson, 2009; Rønnow-Rasmussen, 2011:33–45; Samuelsson, forthcoming). My suggestion for a solution to this problem is quite simple and straightforward, and it proceeds from recognizing an ambiguity in the expression ‘properties constituting (or providing) reasons’. The notion of a reason relevant to BPA is that of a normative reason, i.e. a fact that counts in favour of some response. Now, BPA is not formulated in terms of facts, but in terms of properties constituting reasons. However, properties are not themselves reasons, and there are different ways in which the property of an object can feature in a fact taken to provide a reason. My suggestion is that only one of these ways is relevant to whether the object in question possesses value. Thus, the solution to WKRP lies in understanding BPA in terms of facts, and getting the place of properties in these facts right. If BPA is adequately formulated in this way, it seems that WKRP does not arise in the first place – the problem will resolve. This solution that I propose bears similarities to a kind of solution to WKRP most thoroughly articulated by Stratton-Lake (2005), and can be seen as a further development and defence of that kind of solution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Kungl. tekniska högskolan , 2013. 177-178 p.
National Category
Philosophy Ethics
Research subject
Ethics; Practical Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-81063ISBN: 978-91-7501-787-7OAI: diva2:652555
Swedish Congress of Philosophy 2013
Available from: 2013-10-01 Created: 2013-10-01 Last updated: 2014-01-20Bibliographically approved

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