Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (1986)

Richard W. Field
Northwest Missouri State University
In this dissertation I offer a theory of intrinsic value based on contextualist principles drawn from the value theories of John Dewey and Alfred North Whitehead. The point of departure for the argument is the contextualist view that the qualitative patters representing in experience objects of states of affairs to which we attribute values provide necessary, but not sufficient, conditions to elicit particular valuations, and ground the evaluative judgments we make. The sufficient conditions for valuation include a broader context of memories, beliefs, and peripheral qualia that combine in an integral experiential whole whose value is not reducible to that of its parts. It is first argued that value is, as G.E. Moore suggested, a simple, indefinable property. This property is emergent from experiential qualitative patterns in the sense that value is conditioned by the patterns, but is not itself a condition of them. An analysis of experiential qualitative pattern is then offered, which indicates how some parts of these patterns are focused on in evaluative judgment as crucial for the reproduction of particular values through practical action, whereas the influence of other parts is largely ignored, thus forming a relatively constant experiential context. Finally, a theory of evaluative judgment is offered based on contextualist principles. It is suggested that a contextualist theory can answer the challenge of value relativism by showing how evaluative judgment is 'position relative' rather than 'author relative'. That is, two subjects many come to different evaluative judgments on account of their differing positions or situations, while both may agree that the other's judgment is sound given his or her situation.
Keywords value  contextualism  Dewey  Whitehead
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