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From "On The Definition Of Value"

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Sean O'Connor

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What is value? Value is an abstract concept. A value as such is a place within a particular hierarchy. To value something is to judge where within a particular hierarchy a particular thing is. Ayn Rand asserted that a value is that which one acts to gain or keep however she confuses “value” here with a few other concepts. Her confusion is innocent however ironic. I say it is ironic because it was she who discovered precisely how to define a concept.

“When in doubt about the meaning or the definition of a concept, the best method of clarification is to look for its referents-i.e., to ask oneself: What fact or facts of reality gave rise to this concept? What distinguishes it from all other concepts? ” (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology)

So indeed, what facts give rise to the concept “value”? “Value” is used in many contexts and yet always holds the same characteristic in each context. It is used in all numerical contexts. A numerical value is always positive or negative. “1” is a “value”. “-17,000,000,000,000” is also a “value.” “Value” is used also in philosophical contexts. If something is moral, i.e., in one’s rational self interest, it is of positive “value” to one’s life; it is highly valuable. If something is immoral it is of negative value to one’s life; it is destructive. What then distinguishes the primary use of “value” from all other concepts? ...

(Clean here To finish reading "On The Definition Of Value")

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Value (the noun) is something that is sought for if not in hand or defended if it is already in hand.

Value in this sense means a valuable thing or situation.

In the case of a mathematical or logical variable, the variable is mapped into a domain by a value-function. That is not quite the same thing because there is no end-means context to this definition. In the mathematical context value-ing is putting a label on something for future reference.


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The term 'words' and 'concepts' are not exactly interchangable, the idea that they are seems to be the premise on which this line of reasoning is based. Etymology is to words as epistemology is to concepts is , I think, an apt analogy. Words 'mean' their definitions, but concepts 'mean' their actual referents.

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