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Reasons to act, reasons to require, and the two-level theory of moral explanation

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Löschke Jörg,
Project Value-Based Non-Consequentialism
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Philosophical Studies
Volume (Issue) 178(1)
Page(s) 169 - 185
Title of proceedings Philosophical Studies
DOI 10.1007/s11098-020-01426-x

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


Deontic buck-passing aims to analyse deontic properties of acts in terms of reasons. Many authors accept deontic buck-passing, but only few have discussed how to understand the relation between reasons and deontic properties exactly. Justin Snedegar has suggested understanding deontic properties of acts in terms of both reasons and reasons to require: A is required to φ iff A has most reason to φ, and there is most reason to require A to φ. This promising proposal faces two open questions: the question of why there can only be most reason to require A to φ if A has most reason to φ, and the question of what role agent-relative reasons play in generating requirements. In this paper, I address these questions and argue that the key to answering them is to reject evaluative buck-passing and accept a value-based theory of practical reasons instead. The result is a two-level theory of moral explanation: on the first level, practical reasons are explained in terms of appropriate responses to value; on the second level, deontic properties of acts are explained in terms of reasons: reasons to act as well as reasons to require.