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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]

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

In ethics, value denotes the degree of importance of some thing or action, with the aim of determining what actions are best to do or what way is best to live, or to describe the significance of different actions. Value systems are proscriptive and prescriptive beliefs; they affect 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".


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.

Ethics branch of philosophy that systematizes, defends, and recommends concepts of right and wrong conduct

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, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.

Aesthetics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste

Aesthetics, or esthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty.

Robert Schirokauer Hartman was a 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.


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]

Socrates classical Greek Athenian philosopher

Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the main contemporary author to have written plays mentioning Socrates during Socrates' lifetime, though a fragment of Ion of Chios' Travel Journal provides important information about Socrates' youth.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

Thomas Aquinas Dominican scholastic philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, Philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He is an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism; of which he argued that reason is found in God. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.

See also

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.

Praxeology or praxiology is the study of human action, based on the notion that humans engage in purposeful behavior, as opposed to reflexive behavior like sneezing and unintentional behavior.

Nikolay Lossky Russian philosopher

Nikolay Onufriyevich Lossky, also known as N. O. Lossky, was a Russian philosopher, representative of Russian idealism, intuitionist epistemology, personalism, libertarianism, ethics and axiology. He gave his philosophical system the name intuitive-personalism. Born in Latvia, he spent his working life in St. Petersburg, New York, and Paris. He was the father of the influential Christian theologian Vladimir Lossky.

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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.

Various approaches of Value theory examine how, why, and to what degree humans value things; whether the object or subject of valuing is a person, idea, object, or anything else.

Analytic philosophy style of philosophy

Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:

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.

This Index of ethics articles puts articles relevant to well-known ethical debates and decisions in one place - including practical problems long known in philosophy, and the more abstract subjects in law, politics, and some professions and sciences. It lists also those core concepts essential to understanding ethics as applied in various religions, some movements derived from religions, and religions discussed as if they were a theory of ethics making no special claim to divine status.

Michael A. Slote is UST Professor of ethics at the University of Miami and an author of a number of books. He was previously professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, and at Trinity College Dublin.

Raymond Geuss, Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, is a political philosopher and scholar of 19th and 20th century European philosophy. Geuss is primarily known for three reasons: his early account of ideology critique in The Idea of a Critical Theory; a recent collection of works instrumental to the emergence of Political Realism in Anglophone political philosophy over the last decade, including Philosophy and Real Politics; and a variety of free-standing essays on issues including aesthetics, Nietzsche, contextualism, phenomenology, intellectual history, culture and ancient philosophy.

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

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.

Wilbur Marshall Urban (1873–1952) was an American philosopher of language, influenced by Ernst Cassirer. He wrote also on religion, axiology, ethics and idealism.

Aurel Thomas Kolnai was a 20th-century philosopher and political theorist.

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.

Ricardo Maliandi Argentine philosopher

Ricardo Guillermo Maliandi Argentine writer and philosopher, devoted to ethics.

Frank Chapman Sharp was an American philosopher who specialized in ethics, including business ethics and the ethical conduct of war.

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.


  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

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Nicholas Rescher American philosopher

Nicholas Rescher is a German-American philosopher at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science and has formerly served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department.

Edward N. Zalta philosopher

Edward N. Zalta is a senior research scholar at the Center for the Study of Language and Information. He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1980. Zalta has taught courses at Stanford University, Rice University, the University of Salzburg, and the University of Auckland. Zalta is also the Principal Editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from many academic institutions worldwide. Authors contributing to the encyclopedia give Stanford University the permission to publish the articles, but retain the copyright to those articles.