Some hope to cash out claims about goodness in terms of claims about
reasons to respond. One such account is the Buck Passing Account of
Value (BPV), which says that to be valuable is to have other properties
reasons to take up an attitude in favor of it. I am thinking about the
merits and originality of an objection to BPV. Consider the following
(BR) One can have a reason to take up some attitude, a reason not to
take up that same attitude, and one of these reasons is better than the
BR is overwhelming plausible. But BR uses evaluative terms: it says that some reason is better than another reason. So, BR uses evaluative language. Can BPV be reconciled with BR?
It can if we can express the thought BR expresses by substituting some
nonevaluative term for "better". We might be tempted to go with
"stronger". But we are not talking about explanatory reasons here; we
are talking about justifying reasons. So "stronger" is at best merely
metaphorical. It won't do.
We might be tempted to rely on reasons-talk again. To say that reason
A is better than reason B, it might be suggested, is to say that we
have reason to do what reason A recommends rather than what reason B
recommends. Let's call this reason about reasons a meta-reason.
Will this solve the problem? I don't think so. Meta-reasons
themselves can be better or worse than other meta-reasons. To escape
this regress, we would need a reason that itself is not better or worse
than other reasons. I don't relish the taste of that bullet.
Alternatively, we could embrace the infinite regress. Yuk.
Instead, it seems better to reject BPV.
I'll delete this post if it merely rehearses a well-known (but unknown to me) objection.