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INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
What is Value?

 

A. DEFINITION

1. Etymology: from Latin valere, “to be of worth.”

2. Narrow definition: The property or quality of being good, useful, valuable, or worthy. Traditionally conceived as:

                      a) Intrinsic: valued for itself as an end or final goal

                            1. Hedonism: pleasure
                            2. Utilitarianism: happiness
                            3. Perfectionism: excellence

                      b) Instrumental: valued as a means to an end (example: money)

3. General Definition (employed in value theory or axiology): The entire scope of negative as well as positive evaluation corresponding to objects in general. At this level of generality, value is a graduated range or continuum exhibiting an oppositional structure.

B. EXAMPLES

Sphere                                    Positive value                            Negative value

Physical                                         Pleasure                                           Pain

Practical                                        Useful                                              Useless

Intellectual                                     True                                                False

Biological                                      Life                                                  Death

Ethics                                            Right                                               Wrong

Feeling                                          Love                                               Hate

Economic                                     Wealth                                             Poverty

Aesthetic                                      Beauty                                             Ugliness

Legal                                            Innocence                                        Guilt

Religious                                       Holy                                                Unholy

Political                                         Freedom                                         Determined

 


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