Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 V - Value


Value: Degree of desirability or undesirability attributed to something.

One needs some term like "value" to refer to one's likes, dislikes, hates, loves etc. Four important points to be made about values in general are

1. Values are personal.
2. Values need not be quantitative to be reasonable and understandable.
3. There is no absolute singular order between values from best to worst.
4. Values may derive from feelings or may depend on complicated judgments of an ideological, religious or philosophical nature. Most values are to a considerable extent dependent on one's philosophy, ideology or religion, and involve both ideas about what reality is like and what it should be like.

That values are personal may seem to be obvious, but deserves stressing: Even if one follows an authority, leader, or common prejudice, one chooses it oneself - and has in common with all other human beings that no one else can feel one's feelings or make one's choices.

That values need not be quantitative is also fairly to very obvious, yet worth stressing because in fact so many of one's judgments of values are in terms of more or less and of degree rather than in terms of precisely how much.

That values cannot normally be ordered on a single simple scale running from best to worst is a consequence of the paradox of preference.

That values may be given - as it were - directly from feelings or may involve a lot of thinking, guessing and hoping is also rather evident, but deserves stressing because most values are at least in part ideologically motivated and involve also ideas about what reality is like, and hence what may and may not be possible in it.

It is noteworthy, if also fairly obvious, that people's lifes are oriented around and directed by their judgments of value, possibly guided and constrained by judgments of probability.

There are two bases for judgments of values: Natural needs and acquired personal interests. It is an interesting fact about human beings that acquired personal interests may be effectively stronger than natural needs.

See also: Desires, Needs, Preference - paradox of.


Krantz etc., McCulloch, Skyrms, Stegmüller

 Original: Aug 19, 2004                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top