Philosophical theory of value. Axiology is the study of value, or goodness, in its widest sense. The distinction is commonly made between intrinsic and extrinsic value—i.e., between that which is valuable for its own sake and that which is valuable only as a means to something else, which itself may be extrinsically or intrinsically valuable. Many different answers have been given to the question “What is intrinsically valuable?” For hedonists, it is pleasure; for pragmatists, it is satisfaction, growth, or adjustment; for Kantians, it is a good will. Pluralists such as G.E. Moore and William David Ross assert that there are any number of intrinsically valuable things. According to subjective theories of value, things are valuable only insofar as they are desired; objective theories hold that there are at least some things that are valuable independently of people's interest in or desire for them. Cognitive theories of value assert that ascriptions of value function logically as statements of fact, whereas noncognitive theories assert that they are merely expressions of feeling (see emotivism) or prescriptions or commendations (see prescriptivism). According to naturalists, expressions such as “intrinsically good” can be analyzed as referring to natural, or non-ethical, properties, such as being pleasant. Moore famously denied this, holding that “good” refers to a simple (unanalyzable) non-natural property. See also fact-value distinction; naturalistic fallacy.

Variants of AXIOLOGY

axiology or value theory

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