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Neurobiology of human values

Practice of value by RAZ 2. The Thesis in Brief A. The Thesis It is time to put some fiesh on the enigmatic remarks made so far. The social dependence of values, or at least the aspect of it that concerns me, can be expressed as the combination of two theses: The special social dependence thesis claims that some values exist only if there are (or were) social practices sustaining them. The (general) social dependence thesis claims that, with some exceptions, all values depend on social practices either by being subject to the special thesis or through their dependence on values that are subject to the special thesis. III. CHANGE AND UNDERSTANDING 1. Understanding and Value To the extent that it is possible to distinguish them, my emphasis so far

has been on ontological questions, on the existence of values. It is time to shift to questions of understanding of values, remembering all along that the two cannot be entirely separated. Understanding, rather than knowledge, is the term that comes to mind when thinking of evaluative judgments. Judgment, rather than mere knowledge, is what the practically wise person possesses. Why? What is the difference? It is a matter of degree, with understanding and judgment involving typically, FIrst, knowledge in depth, and secondly, and as a result, knowledge much of which is implicit. Understanding is knowledge in depth. It is connected knowledge in two respects. First, knowledge of what is understood is rich enough to place its object in its context, to relate it to its location and its neighbourhood, literally and metaphorically. Second, knowledge of what is understood is also connected to ones imagination, emotions, feelings, and intentions. What one understands one can imagine, empathise with, feel for, and be disposed to act appropriately regarding. Understanding tends to involve a good deal of implicit knowledge precisely because it is connected knowledge. Its richness exceeds our powers of articulation. Understanding is displayed, and put to use, through good judgment. To illustrate the point, think of a simple example of good judgment. Jane, we may say, is a good judge of wines. Ask her which wine to serve with the meal. John, by way of contrast, has perfect knowledge of the bus timetable. You should ask him which bus to take, but it would be odd to think of him as being a good judge of bus journeys, or as having a good judgment of bus journeys, in the way that Jane is clearly a good judge of wine because of her excellent judgment regarding wines. The difference is that Johns views, perfect though they are, are based on one kind of consideration, whereas Jane is judging the bearing of a multitude of factors on the choice of wine. Moreover, the ways the different factors bear on each other, and on the ultimate choice, defy comprehensive articulation. If Jane is articulate and refiective (and to possess good judgment she need be neither) she may be able to explain every aspect of every one of her decisions, but she cannot describe exhaustively all aspects of her decisions, let alone provide a general detailed and contentfull1 procedure for arriving at the choices or opinions she may reach on different real and hypothetical occasions, as John can. It is not difFIcult to see why values call for understanding and judgment. The connection is most evident regarding speciFIc values. They are mixed values, constituted by standards determining ways for ideal combinations of contributing values, and criteria for various relationships that objects can have to them (simple instantiation, inversion, etc.). Their knowledge requires knowledge of the various values that combine in their mix, and of the way their presence affects the value of the object given the presence of other values. Regarding these matters whose complexity and dense texture defy complete articulation, knowledge is connected and implicit, amounting, when it is reasonably refiective and reasonably complete, to understanding, and its use, in forming opinions and in taking decisions, calls for judgment. The case of general values may be less clear. The more general the value, the more homogeneous and simple it is likely to be. Can one not have knowledge of it without understanding, and apply it without judgment? The apparent simplicity of general values is, however, misleading. To be sure, one can have limited knowledge of them, as one can of more speciFIc values, without understanding. One can know that freedom is the value of being allowed to act as one sees FIt. Such one-liners are

true so far as they go. We FInd them useful because we have the background knowledge that enables us to read them correctly. Relying on abstract formulations of the content of values, and denying that they need to be understood in context and interpreted in light of other related values, leads to one of the most pernicious forms of fanaticism. As I have already mentioned, more general values are explained at least in part by the way they feed into more speciFIc ones. The point can be illustrated in various ways, appropriate to various examples. There could be forms of friendship different, some quite radically so, from those that exist today. But one cannot pursue friendship (a relatively general value) except through the speciFIc forms it has (this comment will be somewhat qualiFIed when we discuss innovation and change below). Therefore, knowledge of the value of friendship is incomplete without an understanding of its speciFIc forms, with their speciFIc forms of excellence. 2. Interpretation Like aspect-seeing, interpretations admit both of FIxity and of fiexibility. That is, it takes an effort for people to see the sense of rival interpretations, and the common belief that if I am right the other must be wrong is no help in this. Even after one sees the merit of a rival interpretation there may be only one that one feels at home with. Yet some people can be at home with various ones and feel free to rely on them on different occasions. The important point to make is that the social dependence of values enables us to understand better such developments and their general availability. It enables us to reconcile the objectivity of values with their fiuidity and sensitivity to social practices, to shared understanding and shared meanings. It enables us to combine holding to a FIxed point of reference, which is essential to thinking of values as objective and to our being able to orient ourselves by them, either by trying to realise them or through more complex relations to them, and realising that their FIxity is temporary and fragile, which explains how change is often continuous, and no different from their further development in one way rather than another, which was equally open. None of this is explainable unless we take seriously the contingency at the heart of value.

Subjectivity of value Hume put the view this way: Take any action allowd to be vicious: Wilful murder, for instance. Examine it in all its lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. In which-ever way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object. You never can find it, till you turn your reflexion into your own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation, which arises in you, towards this action. . . . So that when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean nothing, but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it. Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compard

to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind.l There are great differences and conflicts among peoples valuings, and social and political life is a matter of resolving those conflicts and reconciling opposed interests. But what calls for solution is the question of which is to prevail. Each opposing interest must somehow be accommodated. This seems to require of subjectivism both detachment from and engagement with the very same experiences, ideas, and beliefs. We must stand apart from our color beliefs and our evaluations while also holding onto them. Our attributing thoughts or beliefs about nonexistent things to others therefore does not require that we ourselves believe the world to be populated with the things those complex ideas represent. We can see how people come to think that way without our agreeing that the thoughts they have are true. Another view holds that what is being said is that the act is such that all human beings of certain kinds would get a certain feeling toward it if they knew of it. Both these views see the so-called evaluative judgment as a factual assertion about actual or hypothetical feelings on the part of certain human beings. In that respect they are like the dispositional analysis of an objects color. One merit of all theories of this sort is that they preserve one striking feature of our evaluative thought. They allow that our reactions to the world do involve genuine beliefs about the goodness or badness of things. They see us as asserting what we take to be truths about the world. And there is very good reason for insisting that we think of our moral judgments as either true or false. Not only do we seem to believe them and assert them and try to support them by reasoning. Moral sentences can also be embedded in other sentences in what certainly looks like a purely truth-functional way. The mind, Hume says, has a great propensity to spread itself on external objects, and to conjoin with them any internal impressions, which they occasion, and which always make their appearance at the same time that these objects discover themselves to the senses.8 In making moral judgments we think we are ascribing moral characteristics to the acts we observe; we treat our moral views as if they were, so to speak, propositional, but in fact they are mere projections. We gild or stain the facts with our feelings, but all that is strictly true in what we say is the purely factual, nonevaluative content to which something in the value-free world could correspond. If my moral judgment is a report that I have a certain feeling, or that all human beings would get a certain kind of feeling under certain conditions, the kind of feeling in question must be identified before we can know what is being said. Not just any feeling will do. Hume says that the feeling arising from virtue is agreeable, and the feeling of vice is uneasy or unpleasant,

but in saying that an act is wrong, even if I am indeed saying something about how people do or would feel, I am not saying only that they would get unpleasant or disagreeable feelings from the act. They might get unpleasant feelings from something they eat, but that would not make what they eat bad, or vicious, or wrong. So we still need some explanation of what it is to think that something is bad, or vicious, and some account of how we can intelligibly attribute such thoughts or attitudes to people. Knowing that a blue light is shining on a white wall, I will know that a person looking at it sees blue and, if he doesnt know about the light, that he also believes that the wall is blue. I know the belief is false, but I can attribute that belief to him. I can do that because of my own general competence in the language of color and my knowledge of what colors things are in the environment. Similarly, if I do not agree with a persons evaluative judgment, I can still correctly attribute it to him and understand what it is for him to hold that view, because of my own general competence in the language of evaluation and my knowledge of the evaluative features of the environment - what things are good or bad, better or worse than others. This would have the consequence that the only materials available to us for understanding what appears to be evaluative thought and for seeing how it figures in human action and human social arrangements would be simple, isolated feelings with no evaluative content. Perhaps something like that is what finds expression in the popular halfthought that morality is after all just a matter of what people want, or what they like or dont like. Or worse still, the thought that it is just a matter of whose likes and dislikes are going to prevail. And now there is the view, in the United States at least, that morality is itself just one among a great many special interests that have to be accommodated in society. People are thought to be just pushing their own personal interests or seeking their own gratifications in one way or another, and the morality lobby is encouraged to fight it out with the military, the corporations, the doctors, the judges, and so on. Morality, for example, is a quite general phenomenon which seems distinctive of the human species. No other creatures seem moved by considerations of good and bad, right and wrong. Descartess evil demon represented the threat that the way things are independently of me might be extremely different from the way I take them to be. If the demon exists, he alone exists beyond me, and his clever machinations make me think that I live in a world of earth and water, trees and buildings, and other people with human bodies like the one I think Ive got. He gives me such thoughts and beliefs, so they are produced by something objective and independent of me, but there would be almost nothing in that world corresponding to any of those thoughts. They would almost all be false. The challenge of skepticism is to show how I know

that I do not live in such a world. Once we see human knowledge as a combination of an objective and a subjective factor in this way, and we acknowledge the possibility of a largely or even entirely subjective source for most of our beliefs, it seems impossible to explain how those beliefs could ever amount to knowledge or reasonable belief. Any study of human socialization or human development along these lines would be a study of how a human being or a group of human beings gets absorbed into a culture whose members already have some values or other, or how the possession of one set of values gets transformed into possession of another. It would explain at most the transmission of values, perhaps even the transmission of the very idea of value, from those who have it to those who do not. We want to understand the nature of any evaluative thoughts or attitudes. We ask what their special content is, what is really being thought. And that first takes the form of asking what would be so if they were true. In trying to answer that question, either we merely repeat the thought - Killing a human being is bad is true if and only if killing a human being is bad - and so we do not feel we are explaining it, or we try to express its content in other terms that reveal in some illuminating way what is really being said. If those further terms are still evaluative, we will not feel that we have explained what it is for any evaluative thought or attitude to be true; we will simply have exchanged one such thought for another. So if we are going to make any progress in explaining the evaluative as such, we will either say that having what we call an evaluative attitude or opinion is not really a matter of thinking something to be true - but instead is expressing a feeling or issuing a prescription or making a recommendation or some such thing - or we will say that it is a matter of our thinking true something that is really nonevaluative and so could hold in the objective world - perhaps something about nonevaluative feelings that we and others do or would feel under certain conditions. I would draw here on the parallel I see with the case of colors. If we did not make categorical ascriptions of colors to things around us we could not acknowledge the existence of such things as perceptions of colors or beliefs about the colors of things on the part of human beings. We could not conceive of the world as containing those very perceptions and beliefs that subjectivism about colors claims have nothing corresponding to them in reality and are nothing more than our subjective responses to an objectively colorless world. I want to say more about what this idea amounts to and exactly what it implies about our understanding of values and colors, and what it does not. It says in its strongest form that we cannot think of a world in which people perceive particular colors or believe that things are colored without ourselves being prepared to ascribe color categorically to things in the world. We cannot understand human beings to have evaluative opinions or attitudes to the effect that such-and-such is good or bad without ourselves sometimes recognizing the goodness or badness of certain things. And in

making those ascriptions of color, or of value, we are taking certain things to be true. We take it to be part of the way things are, for example, that grass is green, or that the deliberate killing of a human being is a very bad thing. Our engagement with, or endorsement of, aspects of the world of those general types is required for our ascribing to human beings beliefs or attitudes with those types of contents. What we take to be facts of the world are implicated in our making sense of thoughts of the world. The two cannot be pried apart completely. And this seems to imply that the truth of the majority of our beliefs is a necessary condition of our having them - that if we have any beliefs or attitudes at all, the list of sentences which state the contents of those beliefs or attitudes will contain mostly truths. That would connect our beliefs necessarily with the way the world is. This is just the position of Kants Critique of Pure Redson, perhaps the greatest attempt there has ever been to prove that the truth about the way the world is cannot come apart in general from our thinking and perceiving in the ways we do. Kant thought there were necessary conditions of the possibility of all thought and experience, and that not all those necessary conditions are themselves just further thoughts or beliefs. They include as well many nonpsychological truths, so not only must we think a certain way, but the world independent of us must be a certain way, in general, if we are even able to think of or perceive anything at all. Kant saw that some philosophical theory was needed to explain this necessary link between thought and experience and the world, and his explanation was the theory of transcendental idealism. It was the only explanation he thought there could be. We can know that the world in general must conform to our thinking and perceiving in certain ways because our being able to think and perceive what we do actually constitutes the world that we perceive and believe in. The price of showing that our thoughts and perceptions and the truth of their contents cannot come apart in general was that the truth of what we believe about the world somehow consists in our having the kinds of thoughts and perceptions that we do. The world turns out to be dependent on our thoughts and perceptions in some way after all. That is a form of idealism, which is one variety of what I am calling subjectivism. If we ask in a similar vein how our color beliefs, or our evaluative beliefs, could not fail to be true, a more particular version of that same idealism or subjectivism will seem like the only possible answer. What it is for color judgments to be true, for there to be a world of colored objects, it would say, is just for human beings to agree for the most part in their ascription of colors to things. There might be considerable disagreement in particular cases, but on the whole there would be nothing more to things being colored than human perceivers agreeing in general in the perceptions they have and the judgments they make about the colors of things. Similarly, for things to have value, and to have the particular values they have, would simply be for human beings to agree in general in their ascriptions of value to things. Again, there is room for wide disagreement and uncertainty, but on the

whole the truth of value judgments would amount to nothing more than agreement, or the possibility of agreement, in human beings evaluative beliefs. Because he thought that we cannot conceive of an object without perceiving it, he thought that we cannot conceive of an object that remains unperceived. He concluded that an object could not possibly exist unperceived - it is inconceivable. But that is to start with the fact that we cannot do something, that we cannot perform a certain feat, and to conclude that a certain thing could not possibly be so.
Value of Values
How does one define values or a value system?

A value could be defined as a belief or attitude that you hold close; something that you want to keep as a standard for judging yourself and the rest of the world. It is the basis for your sense of right and wrong, good or bad.

Values can be related to health, cultural awareness, spirituality, religion, preservation of nature, integrity, loya lty, wealth, stability and security, creativity, independence, search for fame or peace, personal growth and education.

Basic Human Values: An Overview


Shalom H. Schwartz The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The value concept [is] able to unify the apparently diverse interests of all the sciences concerned with human behavior. [Rokeach, 1973] A psychologist wrote these words that proclaim the centrality of the value concept. Sociologists [e.g., Williams, 1968] and anthropologists [e.g., Kluckhohn, 1951] have echoed similar opinions. These theorists view values as the criteria people use to evaluate actions, people, and events. This paper presents a theory within this tradition. The theory1 identifies ten motivationally distinct value orientations that people in all cultures recognize, and it specifies the dynamics of conflict and congruence among these values. It aims to be a unifying theory for the field of human motivation, a way of organizing the different needs, motives, and goals proposed by other theories.

Introduction to the Values Theory


When we think of our values, we think of what is important to us in our lives (e.g., security, independence, wisdom, success, kindness, pleasure). Each of us holds numerous values with varying degrees of importance. A particular value may be very important to one person, but unimportant to another. Consensus regarding the most useful way to conceptualize basic values has emerged gradually since the 1950s. We can summarize the main features of the conception of basic values implicit in the writings of many theorists and researchers2 as follows:  Values are beliefs. But they are beliefs tied inextricably to emotion, not objective, cold ideas.  Values are a motivational construct. They refer to the desirable goals people strive to attain.  Values transcend specific actions and situations. They are abstract goals. The abstract nature of values distinguishes them from concepts like norms and attitudes, which usually refer to specific actions, objects, or situations.  Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events. That is,

values serve as standards or criteria.  Values are ordered by importance relative to one another. Peoples values form an ordered system of value priorities that characterize them as individuals. This hierarchical feature of values also distinguishes them from norms and attitudes. The Values Theory defines values as desirable, trans-situational goals, varying in importance, that serves as guiding principles in peoples lives. The five features above are common to all values. The crucial content aspect that distinguishes among values is the type of motivational goal they express. In order to coordinate with others in the pursuit of the goals that are important to them, groups and individuals represent these requirements cognitively (linguistically) as specific values about which they communicate. Ten motivationally distinct, broad and basic values are derived from three universal requirements of the human condition: needs of individuals as biological organisms, requisites of coordinated social interaction, and survival and welfare needs of groups. The ten basic values are intended to include all the core values recognized in cultures around the world. These ten values cover the distinct content categories found in earlier value theories, in value questionnaires from different cultures, and in religious and philosophical discussions of values. It is possible to classify virtually all the items found in lists of specific values from different cultures, into one of these ten motivationally distinct basic values. Schwartz [Schwartz, 1992, 2005a] details the derivations of the ten basic values. For example, a conformity value was derived from the prerequisites of interaction and of group survival. For interaction to proceed smoothly and for groups to maintain themselves, individuals must restrain impulses and inhibit actions that might hurt others. A self-direction value was derived from organismic needs for mastery and from the interaction requirements of autonomy and independence. Each of the ten basic values can be characterized by describing its central motivational goal: 1. Self-Direction. Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring. 2. Stimulation. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life. 3. Hedonism. Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself. 4. Achievement. Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. 5. Power. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.3 6. Security. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self. 7. Conformity. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. 8. Tradition. Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self.4 9. Benevolence. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the in-group).5 10. Universalism. Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.6 The comprehensiveness of any set of value orientations in covering the full range of motivational goals cannot be tested definitively. However, some evidence is consistent with the comprehensiveness of the ten basic values. Local researchers in 18 countries added to the survey value items of significance in their culture that they thought might be missing. These were assigned a priori to the existing basic values whose motivational goals they were expected to express. Analyses including the added value items revealed that these items correlated as expected with the core, marker items from the basic values to which they were assigned. They identified no additional basic values.

Sources of Value Priorities


Peoples life circumstances provide opportunities to pursue or express some values more easily than others: For example, wealthy persons can pursue power values more easily, and people who work in the free professions can express self-direction values more easily. Life

circumstances also impose constraints against pursuing or expressing values. Having dependent children constrains parents to limit their pursuit of stimulation values by avoiding risky activities. And people with strongly ethnocentric peers find it hard to express universalism values. In other words, life circumstances make the pursuit or expression of different values more or less rewarding or costly. For example, a woman who lives in a society where common gender stereotypes prevail is likely to be rewarded for pursuing benevolence values and sanctioned for pursuing power.

Life Circumstances: How Background Variables Influence Value Priorities


Typically, people adapt their values to their life circumstances. They upgrade the importance they attribute to values they can readily attain and downgrade the importance of values whose pursuit is blocked [Schwartz & Bardi, 97]. For example, people in jobs that afford freedom of choice increase the importance of self-direction values at the expense of conformity values [Kohn & Schooler, 1983]. Upgrading attainable values and downgrading thwarted values applies to most, but not to all values. The reverse occurs with values that concern material well-being (power) and security. When such values are blocked, their importance increases; when they are easily attained their importance drops. For example, people who suffer economic hardship and social upheaval attribute more importance to power and security values than those who live in relative comfort and safety [Inglehart, 1997].7 Peoples age, education, gender, and other characteristics largely determine the life circumstances to which they are exposed. These include their socialization and learning experiences, the social roles they play, the expectations and sanctions they encounter, and the abilities they develop. Thus, differences in background characteristics represent differences in the life circumstances that affect value priorities.

The Pattern of Value Relations with Other Variables: An Integrated System

How age influences values


It is common to speak of three systematic sources of value change in adulthood: historical events that impact on specific age cohorts (e.g., war, depression), physical ageing (e.g., loss of strength or memory), and life stage (e.g., child rearing, widowhood). Each of these sources affects value-relevant experiences. They determine the opportunities and constraints people confront and their resources for coping. Cohorts Inglehart [1997] demonstrated that older persons in much of the world give higher priority to materialist vs. post-materialist values than younger people.9 He interpreted this as a cohort effect. People form values in adolescence that change little thereafter. The more economic and physical insecurity the adolescents experience, the more important materialist values are to them throughout their lives. The lower priority on materialist values in younger cohorts is due to the increasing prosperity and security many nations have enjoyed during most of the past 50 years.
Physical ageing Strength, energy, cognitive speed, memory, and sharpness of the senses decline with age. Although the onset and speed of decline vary greatly, the decline rarely reverses. This suggests several hypotheses. With age, security values may be more important because a safe, predictable environment is more critical as capacities to cope with change wane. Stimulation values may be less important because novelty and risk are more threatening. Conformity and tradition values may also be more important with age because accepted ways of doing things are less demanding and threatening. In contrast, hedonism values may be less important because dulling of the senses reduces the capacity to enjoy sensual pleasure. Achievement and, perhaps, power values may also be less important for older people who are less able to perform demanding tasks successfully and to obtain social approval. Life stage Opportunities, demands, and constraints associated with life stages may cause age differences in values. Gender influences the experience of life stages, but we focus here on the main effects

of age. In early adulthood, establishing oneself in the worlds of work and family is the primary concern. Demands for achievement are great, both on the job and in starting a family. Challenges are many, opportunities are abundant, and young adults are expected to prove their mettle. These life circumstances encourage pursuit of achievement and stimulation values at the expense of security, conformity, and tradition values. In middle adulthood, people are invested in established family, work, and social relations that they are committed to preserve. Most are approaching the level of achievement they will attain. Work and family responsibilities constrain risk-taking and opportunities for change narrow. Such life circumstances are conducive to more emphasis on security, conformity, and tradition values and less on stimulation and achievement values. The constraints and opportunities of the pre-retirement life stage reinforce these trends. With retirement and widowhood, opportunities to express achievement, power, stimulation, and hedonism values decrease further. In contrast, the importance of security and the investment in traditional ways of doing things make security and tradition values more important. Together, the analyses based on cohort experience, physical ageing, and life stages imply positive correlations of age with security, tradition, and conformity values. The analyses also imply that stimulation, hedonism, and achievement values correlate most negatively with age, and that power values correlate negatively too.

How gender and education influence values


Gender 10 Psychoanalytic theorists contend that women are more related and more affiliated with others than men, whereas men are more autonomous and more individuated [e.g., Chodorov, 1990].

"Cultural feminist" theories posit women's "self-in-relation," in contrast to men's greater autonomy [e.g., Scott, 1988]. They claim that women show more concern for an ethic of care and responsibility, while men focus more on an ethic of rights based on justice and fairness [Gilligan, 1982]. Evolutionary psychologists postulate that women probably gained evolutionary advantage by caring for the welfare of in-group members. Men probably gained evolutionary advantage by attaining and exploiting status and power. Social role theorists attribute gender differences to the culturally distinctive roles of men and women. Parsons and Bales [1985] hold that the allocation of women to nurturing roles reduces competition and preserves family harmony. Women assume more "expressive," person-oriented roles; men engage in and learn more "instrumental," task-oriented roles. Similarly, Bakan proposes agency and communion to distinguish mens and womens modes of social and emotional functioning [Bakan, 1966]. Socialization also contributes: societies typically socialize boys and girls to occupy different social roles and to affirm different life goals and sanction them for failing to do so.

Values influence most if not all motivated behavior.


Classical literature doesnot make any distinction between values and human values