The Normative and the Evaluative: The Buck-Passing Account of Value

The first book-length motivation and defence of an account of value in terms of reasons.

See a preview on Google Books, or a PDF of the table of contents and introduction. Buy it from Amazon or Blackwells.


Many have been attracted to the idea that for something to be good there just have to be reasons to favour it. This view has come to be known as the buck-passing account of value. According to this account, for pleasure to be good there need to be reasons for us to desire and pursue it. Likewise for liberty and equality to be values there have to be reasons for us to promote and preserve them. Extensive discussion has focussed on some of the problems that the buck-passing account faces, such as the 'wrong kind of reason' problem. Less attention, however, has been paid as to why we should accept the buck-passing account or what the theoretical pay-offs and other implications of accepting it are. The Normative and the Evaluative provides the first comprehensive motivation and defence of the buck-passing account of value. Richard Rowland argues that the buck-passing account explains several important features of the relationship between reasons and value, as well as the relationship between the different varieties of value, in a way that its competitors do not. He shows that alternatives to the buck-passing account are inconsistent with important views in normative ethics, uninformative, and at odds with the way in which we should see practical and epistemic normativity as related. In addition, he extends the buck-passing account to provide an account of moral properties as well as all other normative and deontic properties and concepts, such as fittingness and ought, in terms of reasons.

Companions in Guilt Arguments in Metaethics

Forthcoming with Routledge. Co-Edited with Chris Cowie

A recent style of response to the moral error theory is to argue that the features of moral properties or moral epistemology that lead error theorists to endorse a skepticism about morality imply a skepticism about other domains such as epistemic reasons for belief and knowledge, mathematical knowledge, and prudential normativity. But we should reject skepticism about these other domains, so we should reject the error theory. These types of arguments are companions in guilt arguments. For they don't argue that the supposedly problematic features of moral metaphysics or epistemology are unproblematic but rather that they are only as problematic as features in various other companion domains.

This volume brings together a new set of papers on companions in guilt arguments in metaethics. This volume arose out of a debate between the editors that played out in the pages of Philosophical Quarterly and subsequent conference that was organized in Rome.

Preview a draft of the Table of Contents and Introduction to the volume.

Moral Disagreement

Forthcoming in Routledge's New Problems of Philosophy series

There are debates about the significance and implications of moral disagreement in metaethics, moral epistemology, moral psychology, political philosophy, and normative ethics. Many argue that we should accept a form of anti-realism or error theory about morality because these views offer a better explain of the amount of deep and intractable disagreement that we find about moral issues. Moral realists argue that there is not that much deep moral disagreement, and even if there were it would not make a difference to the metaethical views that we should accept. Public Reason liberals argue that moral disagreement affects the laws a state can legitimately enact; their opponents disagree. Some conciliationists argue that moral disagreement with our epistemic peers establishes that we have little moral knowledge or less than we think that we have; others argue that moral disagreement with our epistemic peers does not undermine that much moral knowledge.

This book introduces these different debates about the pervasiveness and significance of moral disagreement and shows that we can better understand what to think of the significance of moral disagreement by considering these debates about moral disagreement in different areas of philosophy side-by-side.