Last updated

Axiology (from Greek ἀξία , axia, "value, worth"; and -λογία , -logia ) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics [1] , philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902, [2] [3] and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908. [4] [5]


Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's science of value.


Between the 5th and 6th centuries BC, it was important in Greece to be knowledgeable if you were to be successful. Philosophers began to recognize that differences existed between the laws and morality of society. Socrates believed that knowledge had a vital connection to virtue, making morality and democracy closely intertwined. Socrates' student, Plato furthered the belief by establishing virtues which should be followed by all. With the fall of the government, values became individual, causing skeptic schools of thought to flourish, ultimately shaping a pagan philosophy that is thought to have influenced and shaped Christianity. During the medieval period, Thomas Aquinas made the distinction between natural and supernatural (theological) virtues. This concept led philosophers to distinguish between judgments based on fact and judgments based on values, creating division between science and philosophy. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Ethics Branch of philosophy that discusses right and wrong conduct

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior." The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.

In metaphilosophy and ethics, meta-ethics is the study of the nature, scope, and meaning of moral judgment. It is one of the three branches of ethics generally studied by philosophers, the others being normative ethics and applied ethics.

Philosophy of law Branch of philosophy examining the nature of law

Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy that examines the nature of law and law's relationship to other systems of norms, especially ethics and political philosophy. It asks questions like "What is law?", "What are the criteria for legal validity?", and "What is the relationship between law and morality?" Philosophy of law and jurisprudence are often used interchangeably, though jurisprudence sometimes encompasses forms of reasoning that fit into economics or sociology.

Value theory involves various approaches that examine how, why, and to what degree humans value things and whether the object or subject of valuing is a person, idea, object, or anything else. Within philosophy, it is also known as ethics or axiology.

Analytic philosophy Style of philosophy

Analytic philosophy is a branch or tradition of philosophy using analysis which is popular in the Western World and Anglosphere, beginning around the turn of the 20th century in the contemporary era and continues today. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia, the majority of university philosophy departments today identify themselves as "analytic" departments.

Eudaimonia, sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia, is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing or prosperity" and "blessedness" have been proposed as more accurate translations.

Virtue ethics normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind and character

Virtue ethics are normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind, character and sense of honesty. Virtue ethicists discuss the nature and definition of virtues and other related problems that focus on the consequences of action. These include how virtues are acquired, how they are applied in various real life contexts, and whether they are rooted in a universal human nature or in a plurality of cultures.

Is–ought problem Philosophical problem articulated by David Hume in 1739

The is–ought problem, as articulated by the Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume, states that many writers make claims about what ought to be, based on statements about what is. Hume found that there seems to be a significant difference between positive statements and prescriptive or normative statements, and that it is not obvious how one can coherently move from descriptive statements to prescriptive ones. The is–ought problem is also known as Hume's law or Hume's guillotine.

The science of value, or value science, is a creation of philosopher Robert S. Hartman, which attempts to formally elucidate value theory using both formal and symbolic logic.

The fact–value distinction is a fundamental epistemological distinction described between:

  1. 'Statements of fact', based upon reason and physical observation, and which are examined via the empirical method.
  2. 'Statements of value', which encompass ethics and aesthetics, and are studied via axiology.

Philosophy and economics, also philosophy of economics, studies topics such as rational choice, the appraisal of economic outcomes, institutions and processes, and the ontology of economic phenomena and the possibilities of acquiring knowledge of them.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to philosophy:

Robert Schirokauer Hartman was a German-American logician and philosopher. His primary field of study was scientific axiology and he is known as its original theorist. His axiology is the basis of the Hartman Value Inventory (also known as the "Hartman Value Profile ", which is used in psychology to measure the character of an individual.

Feminist philosophy is an approach to philosophy from a feminist perspective and also the employment of philosophical methods to feminist topics and questions. Feminist philosophy involves both reinterpreting philosophical texts and methods in order to supplement the feminist movement and attempts to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a feminist framework.

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concern matters of value, and thus comprise the branch of philosophy called axiology.

Juliana González Valenzuela is a Mexican philosopher.

This is a list of philosophical literature articles.

Values (Western philosophy)

The values that a person holds may be personal or political depending on whether they are considered in relation to the individual or to society. Apart from moral virtue, examples of personal values include friendship, knowledge, beauty etc. and examples of political values, justice, equality and liberty. This article will outline some current ideas relating to the first group - personal values. It will begin by looking at the kinds of thing that have value and finish with a look at some of the theories that attempt to describe what value is. Reference will be made solely to Western sources although it is recognised that many, if not all, of the values discussed may be universal.

Axiological ethics

Axiological ethics is concerned with the values which we hold our ethical standards and theories up to. It questions what, if any, basis exists for such values. Through doing so, it explores the justification for our values, and examines if there is any beyond arbitrary preference. While axiological ethics can be considered a subfield within the branch of ethics, it also draws in thought from other fields of philosophy, such as epistemology and value theory.


  1. Random House Unabridged Dictionary Entry on Axiology.
  2. Lapie, Paul (1902). Logique de la volonté. Paris: F. Alcan.
  3. "Axiology and aesthetics - article".
  4. von Hartmann, Eduard (1908). Grundriss der Axiologie. Hermann Haacke.
  5. Samuel L. Hart. Axiology—Theory of Values. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  6. Arneson, P. (2009). Axiology. In S. Littlejohn, & K. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory. (pp. 70-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Further reading