Value (ethics and social sciences)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Thus the norm has a history much like that of an article of common law: it is an accumulation of decisions made by the community over a long period of time which gradually gathers enough moral influence to serve as a precedent for future decisions." --"Notes on the Sociology of Deviance" (1962) by Kai T. Erikson
In ethics and social sciences, value denotes the degree of importance of something or action, with the aim of determining which actions are best to do or what way is best to live (normative ethics in ethics), or to describe the significance of different actions. Value systems are prospective and prescriptive beliefs; they affect the ethical behavior of a person or are the basis of their intentional activities. Often primary values are strong and secondary values are suitable for changes. What makes an action valuable may in turn depend on the ethical values of the objects it increases, decreases, or alters. An object with "ethic value" may be termed an "ethic or philosophic good" (noun sense).
Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of actions or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person's sense of right and wrong or what "ought" to be. "Equal rights for all", "Excellence deserves admiration", and "People should be treated with respect and dignity" are representatives of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behavior and these types include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values that are not clearly physiologically determined, such as altruism, are intrinsic, and whether some, such as acquisitiveness, should be classified as vices or virtues.
- Ethical value may be regarded as a study under ethics, which, in turn, may be grouped as philosophy. Similar to that ethics may be regarded as a subfield of philosophy, ethical value may be regarded as a subgroup of the more broad (and vague) philosophic value. Ethical value denotes something's degree importance, with the aim of determining what action or life is best to do, or at least attempt to describe the value of different actions. It may be described as treating actions themselves as abstract objects, putting value to them. It deals with right conduct and good life, in the sense that a highly, or at least relatively highly, valuable action or may be regarded as good, and an action of low, or at least relatively low, value may be regarded as bad.
- The study of ethical value is also included in value theory.
Ethical value is sometimes used synonymously with goodness. However, goodness has many other meanings as well, and may be regarded as more ambiguous.
Absolute or relative
Personal and cultural values are relative in that they differ between people, and on a larger scale, between people of different cultures. On the other hand, there are theories of the existence of absolute values, which can also be termed noumenal values (and not to be confused with mathematical absolute value). An absolute value can be described as philosophically absolute and independent of individual and cultural views, as well as independent of whether it is known or apprehended or not.
Relative value may be regarded as an 'experience' by subjects of the absolute value. Relative value thus varies with individual and cultural interpretation, while absolute value remains constant, regardless of individual or collective 'experience' of it.
Intrinsic or extrinsic
Philosophic value may be split into instrumental value and intrinsic values. An instrumental value is worth having as a means towards getting something else that is good (e.g., a radio is instrumentally good in order to hear music). An intrinsically valuable thing is worth for itself, not as a means to something else. It is giving value intrinsic and extrinsic properties.
Intrinsic and instrumental goods are not mutually exclusive categories. Some objects are both good in themselves, and also good for getting other objects that are good. "Understanding science" may be such a good, being both worthwhile in and of itself, and as a means of achieving other goods. In these cases, the sum of instrumental (specifically the all instrumental value) and instrinsic value of an object may be used when putting that object in value systems.
The intensity of philosophic value is the degree it is generated or carried out, and may be regarded as the prevalence of the good, the object having the value.
It should not be confused with the amount of value per object, although the latter may vary too, e.g. because of instrumental value conditionality. For example, taking a fictional life-stance of accepting waffle-eating as being the end-in-itself, the intensity may be the speed that waffles are eaten, and is zero when no waffles are eaten, e.g. if no waffles are present. Still, each waffle that had been present would still have value, no matter if it was being eaten or not, independent on intensity.
Instrumental value conditionality in this case could be exampled by every waffle not present, making them less valued by being far away rather than easily accessible.
In many life stances it is the product of value and intensity that is ultimately desirable, i.e. not only to generate value, but to generate it in large degree. Maximizing lifestances have the highest possible intensity as an imperative.
Homology in physics
When comparing to the homologous measure in physics, then intensity in physics may not be the best example, but may better be described as its area. In this sense, power in physics may be compared to the amount of value per object, and physical intensity the product of value per object and ethic intensity. If there is no physical area, then no energy is generated, regardless of physical power. In the same way, if there is no ethic intensity, then no total value is generated, regardless of value per object.
Philosophic or ethic value duration is the time that an object exists, or more specifically, has any intensity.
It is contrasted with chain of events duration, which is the time it takes for a chain of events to reach its terminal event, in this case the object with intrinsic value.
The chain of events duration may be significantly longer than the value duration, especially for objects with long term instrumental value. In the intervening time, the value of the object is converted into the value of the intervening objects in the chain of events.
Average and instantaneous value
With time in mind, there is a distinction between average ethic or philosophic value and instantaneous ethic or philosophic value.
- The average ethic or philosophic value is the average of the ethic or philosophic value of an object during a certain amount of time. If not else specified it is assumed to be the value duration of the object in mind. It can, however, also be the chain of events duration or other specified amount of time.
- The instantaneous ethic or philosophic value is the ethic or philosophic value of an object at a certain point of time. If may be a present, past or future point of time.
Any decrease in the whole value, intensity or duration of an object decreases its total value and vice versa. For example, again taking a fictional life-stance regarding waffles as of ends-in-themselves, it still doesn't generate any total value if there are no waffles, no intensity, no matter how much average value a waffle has.
Economic and philosophic value
Philosophical value is distinguished from economic value, since it is independent on some other desired condition or commodity. The economic value of an object may rise when the exchangeable desired condition or commodity, e.g. money, become high in supply, and vice versa when supply of money becomes low.
Nevertheless, economic value may be regarded as a result of philosophical value. In the subjective theory of value, the personal philosophic value a person puts in possessing something is reflected in what economic value this person puts on it. The limit where a person considers to purchase something may be regarded as the point where the personal philosophic value of possessing something exceeds the personal philosophic value of what is given up in exchange for it, e.g. money. In this light, everything can be said to have a "personal economic value" in contrast to its "societal economic value."
Philosophic or ethic value equality is the concept of two objects having the same philosophic value. It can be of different types, depending of the value:
- Philosophic or ethic intrinsic value equality, where the objects have the same intrinsic value
- Philosophic or ethic instrumental value equality, where the objects have the same instrumental value
- Philosophic or ethic whole value equality, where the objects have the same whole value
- Philosophic or ethic total value equality, where the objects have the same total value
Positive and negative value
There may be a distinction between positive and negative philosophic or ethic value. While positive ethic value generally correlates with something that is pursued or maximized, negative ethic value correlates with something that is avoided or minimized.
- Meaning of life
- Purpose in life
- Intrinsic value (ethics)
- Instrumental value
- Applied ethics
- Intrinsic value
- Moral code
- Moral values
- Natural law
- Value judgment
- Redeeming social value