How to be a deontic buck-passer

Metz, Euan K. H. (2020). How to be a deontic buck-passer. Philosophical Studies, 177(11) pp. 3193–3211.



Deontic, as opposed to evaluative buck-passing theories seem to be easier to accept, since there appears to be an intimate connection between deontic properties, such as ‘ought’, ‘requirement’, and ‘permission’ on the one hand, and normative reasons on the other. However, it is far from obvious what, precisely, the connection consists in, and this topic has suffered from a paucity of discussion. This paper seeks to address that paucity by providing a novel deontic buck-passing view, one that avoids the pitfalls both of the most straightforward view on the matter (what I call the “standard view”) as well as a recently articulated view, due to Matt Bedke. It does so by appealing first to the distinction between a reason for, and a reason against, and uses this distinction to clarify what are taken to be two fundamental, but distinct, deontic properties—ought and requirement. The resulting view allows us to capture these properties, the structural relations between them, and does so in a way that avoids making supererogation impossible.

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