Value (ethics)

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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 (normative ethics), 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" (noun sense).[ citation needed ]

Contents

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.

Types of study

Ethical issues that value may be regarded as a study under ethics, which, in turn, may be grouped as philosophy. Similarly, ethical value may be regarded as a subgroup of a broader field of philosophic value sometimes referred to as axiology. Ethical value denotes something's degree of 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.

The study of ethical value is also included in value theory. In addition, values have been studied in various disciplines: anthropology, behavioral economics, business ethics, corporate governance, moral philosophy, political sciences, social psychology, sociology and theology.

Similar concepts

Ethical value is sometimes used synonymously with goodness. However, goodness has many other meanings and may be regarded as more ambiguous.

Personal versus cultural perspectives

Personal values exist in relation to cultural values, either in agreement with or divergence from prevailing norms. A culture is a social system that shares a set of common values, in which such values permit social expectations and collective understandings of the good, beautiful and constructive. Without normative personal values, there would be no cultural reference against which to measure the virtue of individual values and so cultural identity would disintegrate.

Personal values

Personal values provide an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable and constructive. Values are one of the factors that generate behaviour (besides needs, interests and habits) and influence the choices made by an individual.

Values may help common human problems for survival by comparative rankings of value, the results of which provide answers to questions of why people do what they do and in what order they choose to do them.[ clarification needed ] Moral, religious, and personal values, when held rigidly, may also give rise to conflicts that result from a clash between differing world views. [1]

Over time the public expression of personal values that groups of people find important in their day-to-day lives, lay the foundations of law, custom and tradition. Recent research has thereby stressed the implicit nature of value communication. [2] Consumer behavior research proposes there are six internal values and three external values. They are known as List of Values (LOV) in management studies. They are self respect, warm relationships, sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, fun and enjoyment, excitement, sense of belonging, being well respected, and security. From a functional aspect these values are categorized into three and they are interpersonal relationship area, personal factors, and non-personal factors. [3] From an ethnocentric perspective, it could be assumed that a same set of values will not reflect equally between two groups of people from two countries. Though the core values are related, the processing of values can differ based on the cultural identity of an individual. [4]

Cultural values

The Inglehart-Welzel cultural map of the world, constructed by sociopolitical scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey. Inglehart Values Map.svg
The Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world, constructed by sociopolitical scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey.

Individual cultures emphasize values which their members broadly share. Values of a society can often be identified by examining the level of honor and respect received by various groups and ideas. In the United States of America, for example, top-level professional athletes receive more respect (measured in terms of monetary payment) than university professors.

Values clarification differs from cognitive moral education :

Values relate to the norms of a culture, but they are more global and intellectual than norms. Norms provide rules for behavior in specific situations, while values identify what should be judged as good or evil. While norms are standards, patterns, rules and guides of expected behavior, values are abstract concepts of what is important and worthwhile. Flying the national flag on a holiday is a norm, but it reflects the value of patriotism. Wearing dark clothing and appearing solemn are normative behaviors to manifest respect at a funeral. Different cultures represent values differently and to different levels of emphasis. "Over the last three decades, traditional-age college students have shown an increased interest in personal well-being and a decreased interest in the welfare of others." [5] Values seemed to have changed, affecting the beliefs, and attitudes of the students.

Members take part in a culture even if each member's personal values do not entirely agree with some of the normative values sanctioned in that culture. This reflects an individual's ability to synthesize and extract aspects valuable to them from the multiple subcultures they belong to.

If a group member expresses a value that seriously conflicts with the group's norms, the group's authority may carry out various ways of encouraging conformity or stigmatizing the non-conforming behavior of that member. For example, imprisonment can result from conflict with social norms that the state has established as law.[ clarification needed ]

Furthermore, institutions in the global economy can genuinely respect values which are of three kinds based on a "triangle of coherence". [6] In the first instance, a value may come to expression within the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as (in the second instance) within the United Nations – particularly in the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – providing a framework for global legitimacy through accountability. In the third instance, the expertise of member-driven international organizations and civil society depends on the incorporation of flexibility in the rules, to preserve the expression of identity in a globalized world. [7] .[ clarification needed ]

Nonetheless, in warlike economic competition, differing views may contradict each other, particularly in the field of culture. Thus audiences in Europe may regard a movie as an artistic creation and grant it benefits from special treatment, while audiences in the United States may see it as mere entertainment, whatever its artistic merits. EU policies based on the notion of "cultural exception" can become juxtaposed with the policy of "cultural specificity" on the liberal Anglo-Saxon side. Indeed, international law traditionally treats films as property and the content of television programs as a service.[ citation needed ] Consequently, cultural interventionist policies can find themselves opposed to the Anglo-Saxon liberal position, causing failures in international negotiations. [8]

Development and transmission

Values are generally received through cultural means, especially diffusion and transmission or socialization from parents to children. Parents in different cultures have different values. [9] For example, parents in a hunter–gatherer society or surviving through subsistence agriculture value practical survival skills from a young age. Many such cultures begin teaching babies to use sharp tools, including knives, before their first birthdays. [10] Italian parents value social and emotional abilities and having an even temperament. [9] Spanish parents want their children to be sociable. [9] Swedish parents value security and happiness. [9] Dutch parents value independence, long attention spans, and predictable schedules. [9] American parents are unusual for strongly valuing intellectual ability, especially in a narrow "book learning" sense. [9] The Kipsigis people of Kenya value children who are not only smart, but who employ that intelligence in a responsible and helpful way, which they call ng'om. Luos of Kenya value education and pride which they call "nyadhi". [9]

Factors that influence the development of cultural values are summarized below.

The Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world is a two-dimensional cultural map showing the cultural values of the countries of the world along two dimensions: The traditional versus secular-rational values reflect the transition from a religious understanding of the world to a dominance of science and bureaucracy. The second dimension named survival values versus self-expression values represents the transition from industrial society to post-industrial society. [11]

Cultures can be distinguished as tight and loose in relation to how much they adhere to social norms and tolerates deviance. [12] [13] Tight cultures are more restrictive, with stricter disciplinary measures for norm violations while loose cultures have weaker social norms and a higher tolerance for deviant behavior. A history of threats, such as natural disasters, high population density, or vulnerability to infectious diseases, is associated with greater tightness. It has been suggested that tightness allows cultures to coordinate more effectively to survive threats. [14] [15]

Studies in evolutionary psychology have led to similar findings. The so-called regality theory finds that war and other perceived collective dangers have a profound influence on both the psychology of individuals and on the social structure and cultural values. A dangerous environment leads to a hierarchical, authoritarian, and warlike culture, while a safe and peaceful environment fosters an egalitarian and tolerant culture. [16]

Properties and forms

Relative or absolute

Relative values 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, [17] 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. Ludwig Wittgenstein was pessimistic towards the idea that an elucidation would ever happen regarding the absolute values of actions or objects; "we can speak as much as we want about "life" and "its meaning," and believe that what we say is important. But these are no more than expressions and can never be facts, resulting from a tendency of the mind and not the heart or the will". [18]

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.

An ethic good with instrumental value may be termed an ethic mean, and an ethic good with intrinsic value may be termed an end-in-itself. An object may be both a mean and end-in-itself.

Summation

Intrinsic and instrumental goods are not mutually exclusive categories. [19] 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 intrinsic value of an object may be used when putting that object in value systems, which is a set of consistent values and measures.

Intensity

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. [19]

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.

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.

Negative value may be both intrinsic negative value and/or instrumental negative value.

Protected value

A protected value (also sacred value) is one that an individual is unwilling to trade off no matter what the benefits of doing so may be. For example, some people may be unwilling to kill another person, even if it means saving many others individuals. Protected values tend to be "intrinsically good", and most people can in fact imagine a scenario when trading off their most precious values would be necessary. [20] If such trade-offs happen between two competing protected values such as killing a person and defending your family they are called tragic trade-offs. [21]

Protected values have been found to be play a role in protracted conflicts (e.g., the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) because they can hinder businesslike (''utilitarian'') negotiations. [22] A series of experimental studies directed by Scott Atran and Ángel Gómez among combatants on the ISIS frontline in Iraq and with ordinary citizens in Western Europe [23] suggest that commitment to sacred values motivate the most "devoted actors" to make the costliest sacrifices, including willingness to fight and die, as well as a readiness to forsake close kin and comrades for those values if necessary. [24] From the perspective of utilitarianism, protected values are biases when they prevent utility from being maximized across individuals. [25]

According to Jonathan Baron and Mark Spranca, [26] protected values arise from norms as described in theories of deontological ethics (the latter often being referred to in context with Immanuel Kant). The protectedness implies that people are concerned with their participation in transactions rather than just the consequences of it.

Value system

A value system is a set of consistent values used for the purpose of ethical or ideological integrity.

Consistency

As a member of a society, group or community, an individual can hold both a personal value system and a communal value system at the same time. In this case, the two value systems (one personal and one communal) are externally consistent provided they bear no contradictions or situational exceptions between them.

A value system in its own right is internally consistent when

Conversely, a value system by itself is internally inconsistent if:

Value exceptions

Abstract exceptions serve to reinforce the ranking of values. Their definitions are generalized enough to be relevant to any and all situations. Situational exceptions, on the other hand, are ad hoc and pertain only to specific situations. The presence of a type of exception determines one of two more kinds of value systems:

The difference between these two types of systems can be seen when people state that they hold one value system yet in practice deviate from it, thus holding a different value system. For example, a religion lists an absolute set of values while the practice of that religion may include exceptions.

Implicit exceptions bring about a third type of value system called a formal value system. Whether idealized or realized, this type contains an implicit exception associated with each value: "as long as no higher-priority value is violated". For instance, a person might feel that lying is wrong. Since preserving a life is probably more highly valued than adhering to the principle that lying is wrong, lying to save someone’s life is acceptable. Perhaps too simplistic in practice, such a hierarchical structure may warrant explicit exceptions.

Conflict

Although sharing a set of common values, like hockey is better than baseball or ice cream is better than fruit, two different parties might not rank those values equally. Also, two parties might disagree as to certain actions are right or wrong, both in theory and in practice, and find themselves in an ideological or physical conflict. Ethonomics, the discipline of rigorously examining and comparing value systems[ citation needed ], enables us to understand politics and motivations more fully in order to resolve conflicts.

An example conflict would be a value system based on individualism pitted against a value system based on collectivism. A rational value system organized to resolve the conflict between two such value systems might take the form below. Note that added exceptions can become recursive and often convoluted.

Economic and philosophic value

Philosophical value is distinguished from economic value, since it is independent from 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."

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.

Meta-ethics Branch of ethics seeking to understand ethical properties

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.

In the social sciences, 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.

Morality Differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper

Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness".

Relativism is a family of philosophical views which deny claims to objectivity within a particular domain and assert that facts in that domain are relative to the perspective of an observer or the context in which they are assessed. There are many different forms of relativism, with a great deal of variation in scope and differing degrees of controversy among them. Moral relativism encompasses the differences in moral judgments among people and cultures. Epistemic relativism holds that there are no absolute facts regarding norms of belief, justification, or rationality, and that there are only relative ones. Alethic relativism is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture. Some forms of relativism also bear a resemblance to philosophical skepticism. Descriptive relativism seeks to describe the differences among cultures and people without evaluation, while normative relativism evaluates the morality or truthfulness of views within a given framework.

Moral relativism or ethical relativism is a term used to describe several philosophical positions concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different peoples and their own particular cultures. An advocate of such ideas is often labeled simply as a relativist for short. In detail, descriptive moral relativism holds only that people do, in fact, disagree fundamentally about what is moral, with no judgement being expressed on the desirability of this. Meta-ethical moral relativism holds that in such disagreements, nobody is objectively right or wrong. Normative moral relativism holds that because nobody is right or wrong, everyone ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when considerably large disagreements about the morality of particular things exist.

Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. Dr. Elliott Jaques first introduced the concept of culture in the organizational context in his book The Changing Culture of a Factory in 1951. This was the published report of "a case study of developments in the social life of one industrial community between April, 1948 and November 1950". The "case" involved a publicly-held British company engaged principally in the manufacture, sale, and servicing of metal bearings. The study concerned itself with the description, analysis, and development of corporate group behaviours.

Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad or undesirable or impermissible. A norm in this normative sense means a standard for evaluating or making judgments about behavior or outcomes. Normative is sometimes also used, somewhat confusingly, to mean relating to a descriptive standard: doing what is normally done or what most others are expected to do in practice. In this sense a norm is not evaluative, a basis for judging behavior or outcomes; it is simply a fact or observation about behavior or outcomes, without judgment. Many researchers in this field try to restrict the use of the term normative to the evaluative sense and refer to the description of behavior and outcomes as positive, descriptive, predictive, or empirical.

The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structures and institutions. Examples are the ancient, the feudal, and the capitalist social order. In the second sense, social order is contrasted to social chaos or disorder and refers to a stable state of society in which the existing social structure is accepted and maintained by its members. The problem of order or Hobbesian problem, which is central to much of sociology, political science and political philosophy, is the question of how and why it is that social orders exist at all.

Self-interest

Self-interest generally refers to a focus on the needs or desires (interests) of one's self. Most times, actions that display self-interest are often performed without conscious knowing. A number of philosophical, psychological, and economic theories examine the role of self-interest in motivating human action.

In moral philosophy, instrumental and intrinsic value are the distinction between what is a means to an end and what is as an end in itself. Things are deemed to have instrumental value if they help one achieve a particular end; intrinsic values, by contrast, are understood to be desirable in and of themselves. A tool or appliance, such as a hammer or washing machine, has instrumental value because it helps you pound in a nail or cleans your clothes. Happiness and pleasure are typically considered to have intrinsic value insofar as asking why someone would want them makes little sense: they are desirable for their own sake irrespective of their possible instrumental value. The classic names instrumental and intrinsic were coined by sociologist Max Weber, who spent years studying good meanings people assigned to their actions and beliefs.

J. Baird Callicott

J. Baird Callicott is an American philosopher whose work has been at the forefront of the new field of environmental philosophy and ethics. He is a University Distinguished Research Professor and a member of the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies and the Institute of Applied Sciences at the University of North Texas. Callicott held the position of Professor of Philosophy and Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point from 1969 to 1995, where he taught the world's first course in environmental ethics in 1971. From 1994 to 2000, he served as Vice President then President of the International Society for Environmental Ethics. Other distinguished positions include visiting professor of philosophy at Yale University; the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of Hawai’i; and the University of Florida.

"Instrumental" and "value rationality" are terms scholars use to identify two ways humans reason when coordinating group behaviour to maintain social life. Instrumental rationality recognizes means that "work" efficiently to achieve ends. Value rationality recognizes ends that are "right," legitimate in themselves.

Secular ethics is a branch of moral philosophy in which ethics is based solely on human faculties such as logic, empathy, reason or moral intuition, and not derived from belief in supernatural revelation or guidance—the source of ethics in many religions. Secular ethics refers to any ethical system that does not draw on the supernatural, and includes humanism, secularism and freethinking. A classical example of literature on secular ethics is the Kural text, authored by the ancient Tamil Indian philosopher Valluvar.

Intrinsic value (ethics)

In ethics, intrinsic value is a property of anything which is valuable on its own. Intrinsic value is contrasted with instrumental value, which is a property of anything which derives its value from a relation to something else which is intrinsically valuable. Intrinsic value is always something that an object has "in itself" or "for its own sake", and is an intrinsic property. An object with intrinsic value may be regarded as an end, or in Kantian terminology, as an end-in-itself.

"Instrumental" and "value-rational action" are terms scholars use to identify two kinds of behavior that humans can engage in. Scholars call using means that "work" as tools, instrumental action, and pursuing ends that are "right" as legitimate ends, value-rational action.

Culture change

Culture change is a term used in public policy making that emphasizes the influence of cultural capital on individual and community behavior. It has been sometimes called repositioning of culture, which means the reconstruction of the cultural concept of a society. It places stress on the social and cultural capital determinants of decision making and the manner in which these interact with other factors like the availability of information or the financial incentives facing individuals to drive behavior.

In philosophy, objectivity is the concept of truth independent from individual subjectivity. A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject. Scientific objectivity refers to the ability to judge without partiality or external influence. Objectivity in the moral framework calls for moral codes to be assessed based on the well-being of the people in the society that follow it. Moral objectivity also calls for moral codes to be compared to one another through a set of universal facts and not through Subjectivity.

The science of morality may refer to various forms of ethical naturalism grounding morality in rational, empirical consideration of the natural world. It is sometimes framed as using the scientific approach to determine what is right and wrong, in contrast to the widespread belief that "science has nothing to say on the subject of human values".

Culture consists of both material culture and non-material culture. Thoughts or ideas that make up a culture are called the non-material culture. In contrast to material culture, non-material culture does not include any physical objects or artifacts. Examples of non-material culture include any ideas, beliefs, values, norms that may help shape society.

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