Monday, August 9, 2010

4.4 Objective values

4.4 Objective values
Values, when properly formed, as objective
All entities that may be values are real, existing either concretely or abstractly. Similarly, all organisms and their requirements for continued life are equally real. The ability of an entity to be used by an organism to advance its life by fully causal means, and the need of that organisms to find entities useable in that fashion, are also real. All of these conditions about things are facts. So too are the relationships that exist between them all real. Therefore the values for organisms other than man are completely real, and in a manner that is neither intrinsic nor subjective. Values are formed when the identification of these relationships is made, and are valid only insofar as they are bona-fide attempts to quantify those relationships. Therefore there is a consonance of fact and value.

A man achieves objectivity when he is completely rational in identifying all these separate facts and then drawing the logical conclusion from their relationship. This holds both for concept-formation and value-formation. Just as holds for his concepts, man’s values are objective if he formed them by non-contradictory identification of all available relevant data and their relationships. An objective value is a value formed by a logical process of seeking relevant data regarding the prerequisites of value and identifying their relationships in light of the full context of those prerequisites.

Optional values
When man is forming his values, he may rightly say that entity A is an objective value if it is logically identified as a means to end B, that B is an objective value if logically identified as a means to end C, and so on up to the ultimate end. However, logic does not always present man with a single viable solution. How can a man choose between K and L if both are logically identified as equally useable means to end M? For instance, the need for protein can be satisfied by a variety of different foods, none of which in particular is mandatory. This goes all the way up to his ultimate end. We know that there are a variety of different possible lifestyles, each of which is perfectly consistent with what it means to live life as a man in principle: does a given man prefer to live the life of a farmer or a fisherman or something else? And even if a man chooses a particular main goal in life, there is nothing to say that he cannot have additional hobbies bearing no relation to his main goal. If the objectivity or otherwise in his choice of ultimate ends is in doubt then so is the objectivity of all subsidiary ends as means to that chosen end. In short, what about options?

In organisms other than man the pursuit of values is predominantly just opportunism, operating under set means-end structures they can neither think about nor alter. For man, however, his entire means-ends structure is available for contemplation and alteration at any time. He is frequently presented with perfectly viable options to choose from, not just at the bottom level of the concrete but in his design of every level of abstraction in his means-ends structure all the way to the most abstract level at the very top[23]. In all these cases, any means or subsidiary end is acceptable if it is genuinely capable of advancing life in some way. Normal life for man is neither so precarious nor so simplistic that short-range concrete opportunism is the only possible means of living[24]. Instead, for man, options abound, and frequently inescapable. It is not simply that choices can be made but that they must be made.

The fact that options exist does not in any way mean any choice made from them isn’t objective. There are many possible concrete means that can serve a given end, many possible alternative subsidiary ends, each of which are consistent with the needs of life. All that counts for objectivity is that what is chosen is properly identified a means to an end that is itself properly identified as really being an instance of life as appropriate for the kind of organism one is. The ultimate end is life, because it is an end in itself, and is the ultimate standard of value because it is logically identifiable as being an end in itself.

How an individual makes a choice between two valid options is frequently that which they find the more pleasing.[25] Being rational is not synonymous with pursuing a deduction of The One And Only Answer.[26] So long as man does vet his options by reason, there is no breach of reason or objectivity if he makes his final choice among those options by reference to congeniality.[27] Optional values are still objective values if they are formed correctly and reason has no complaints about the final choice among them.

Mistaken values
Man is not omniscient. He can misidentify facts and relationships, or fail to identify relevant facts, and so on. The method of objectivity is not a guarantee of correctness, and won’t inherently stop a man from coming to wrong conclusions. The proper use of reason entitles the products of its use to be called objective, even when the list of known facts is incomplete. It is method, not content, that makes or breaks objectivity. For instance, if a beachgoer diligently gathers all the relevant facts available and decides to go to the beach after proper thinking then the expected day in the sun is an objective value. The value he placed on that day will remain objective even if in light of later discoveries he decides the day was not as good as expected, say because the beach was too crowded or a high wind was blowing sand everywhere.

Another important feature of the method of reason is that knowledge is open to constant correction and updating. When man applies what he has thought about to his action in reality he will learn whether his thoughts were correct and to what degree. In general, to the extent an idea is true its implementation in action tends greatly to lead to proportionally worthwhile results. Exactly the same principles apply to values and actions based on them for the same reason. Our beachgoer may reassess the kind of traffic conditions to be expected at a particular time of the day or the year and alter his future evaluations of that beach accordingly. Objectivity is not only about initial discovery but also constant re-evaluation. If man does discover error, whether in concepts or values, it is that same capacity to reason that enables him to examine the causes of error and improve how he makes judgements.

Notice again the correlation of methods of forming concepts and values. A man can be mistaken in his concepts and ideas, but still be completely objective in his thinking. Similarly, a man can be mistaken about the value of something but still be completely objective in his evaluation. Having made an honest mistake in concept-formation or other thinking does not automatically make a concept or idea non-objective, and the same holds for values. Mistaken values are still objective values if they were formed correctly given the information available at the time.

Potential and latent values
There can be no values without all four prerequisites of value being in place. What is the value-status of an entity where some but not all of the prerequisites in relation to it are in place? In any such case the entity is simply not a proper value. Nevertheless, while there is no actual value to that item, there might be a potential value. This will arise when there is sufficient context for the process of evaluation to begin though not yet enough to make judgement definitively on value.

To remain objective when calling something a potential value one cannot arbitrarily assert that something might have value in the future. There has to be good reason for thinking that all four prerequisites might possibly arise. This also means that as well as logical identification of the prerequisites that do exist, the determination of possibility[28] also has to be done logically in order for potential values to be objective. A potential value is one for which most, but not all, of the prerequisites of value are met but where the likelihood that they might be met in future is logically identifiable as possible. For instance, if a coming day is expected to be nice and sunny and a man is considering a day off, a trip to the beach is still not yet an actual value to him until he considers the trip and formulates a positive opinion for himself, even though someone else might value a trip to the beach before he thinks about it. Until he formulates his own opinion the trip to the beach is only a potential value to him, even though it may be readily observed as such by others and offered to him as a reasonable suggestion.

There are some cases where it is objective to act to gain or keep a potential value rather than an actual value. In the case of normal potential values this wouldn’t be done, but here the potentiality is now great enough for the actor to take a chance on it. When potential values reach this stage they become latent values:[29] latent values are potential values where the likelihood that the full prerequisites of value might be met in future has progressed from possible to probable[30] and the probability is high enough to warrant action. The value in them that justifies action is one not directly relating to the end they might actually serve in the future but that they serve an instance of the end “preparation for the future” in the present. In that way they can meet all four prerequisites of value in a more abstract fashion, and so in turn the man who judges them as values is still being objective. Latent values are objective values if the process of forming them was valid, which must include having sufficient probability of being actual objective values in future to warrant action in the present. The issue of what constitutes “warranted” is one of business judgement, and will be dealt with later[31].

A common example of latent values is a new product still in the process of development. The prospective customers do not yet know about the new product so they cannot value it because the fourth prerequisite is not met for them. Nevertheless, the businessman developing the product will value the development project, and can be considered objective in doing so even though the product is not yet an actual value to any end-user, if he has good reason to believe that his customers would value his product once offered to them. On that basis he is perfectly objective in making calculations and contemplating actions accordingly, beginning with that his prediction of future demand for the product will be a major factor for whether to continue or abandon the development project.

23 Even whether to live at all is itself something he has to choose. The man under normal conditions is faced with the simple choice whether to accept life as an end in itself or to default to slow-motion death. The possibility of actual suicide, however, arises from concrete conditions that someone may face. Its evaluation is a derivative application of general value theory that presumes life as the standard of value. Discussion of suicide has no place in regular economics. See below, Volume 2, Book 5,
24 Emergencies and other abnormal conditions have no place in basic value theory. See below, Volume 2, Book 5,
25 That in turn is a matter for rational psychology to deal with, which itself presumes the same general theory of value and accepts that life is the standard of value. See Locke, E, ( ). Economics can partially study that, and the result is included in analysis of the phenomenon of demand; see below, section 15.3
26 Peikoff, L (1990) op.cit., p
27 The solution to the paradox of Buridan’s Ass in relation to man’s choices is therefore humdrum: “pick one at random and be done with it!” No properly rational man would castigate another as irrational for following through on that. See Buechner, M (1994) op.cit. lecture
28 See Peikoff, L, (1990) op.cit., pp176-181
29 Menger, C, (1871/1994) op. cit, p85
30 See Peikoff, ibid.
31 See below, 12.4

No comments:

Post a Comment