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Is the Objectivist definition of value incomplete?

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The Objectivist definition of a value is “that which one acts to gain and or keep”. 

However, one must first identify that which one would like to gain before one can act to gain it. 

If one wants to live, one must eat food. The food must be recognised as valuable before action is taken to gain it. 

But the Objectivist definition implies the food only becomes valuable during the action and not before.

If this is the case, what motivates the initial action if the food is not perceived as valuable prior to action taken to gain it?

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The definition is complete and correct, emember that a definition is not a recitation of every fact relevant to the concept, it is a succinct statement of the essential properties that unity all instances of value, differentiated from all other things. To give a complete characterization of “value” (not just a definition), one would have to recite many, many facts that really are not about “value”. Conceptual economy is essential to the Objectivist epistemology. Suppose you say that food is a value, and beef is a high value, unless you are allergic to beef, then it becomes a disvalue so you should not act to gain beef. The concept “value” is starting to bloat: it becomes useless. But if you have “value” as defined in Objectivism, and the entire network of other concepts and propositions, then knowing that value is “that which one acts to gain and keep” is all that is necesssary to compute whether you must have food, and what constitutes “good food”. (NB Rand would never say “and or”).

Perhaps the exact wording is the issue: that is, “that a rational person should act to gain and keep” might make it clearer. But that (sorta) unnecessarily burdens the definition of “value”. The definition doesn’t need any change, but it might benefit, sometimes, on commentary. Also, you cannot “perceive” that an object is a value, you can conclude that it is, if you understand its nature. You can conclude that that mushroom is a value, and kill yourself, through faulty reasoning. “Errors” of perception don’t actually exist, but inferences from sub-normal sensory devices can be wrong.

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16 hours ago, TruthSeeker946 said:

The Objectivist definition of a value is “that which one acts to gain and or keep”. 

However, one must first identify that which one would like to gain before one can act to gain it. 

If one wants to live, one must eat food. The food must be recognised as valuable before action is taken to gain it. 

But the Objectivist definition implies the food only becomes valuable during the action and not before.

If this is the case, what motivates the initial action if the food is not perceived as valuable prior to action taken to gain it?

1. There are two definitions at work here: one is that a value is just and end of an action. The other is that the end is what one ought act for according to some standard. It's important not to mix these two up, and to understand that in an induction of "x as the standard of value" you can't get to the second "normative" meaning until you move through the first "descriptive" meaning.

2. No, it doesn't imply that because of point 1.

3. Its value does still become valuable through action, in a certain sense: deliberation is an action, and deliberation being brought forth through action ("rational/independent thought" or "integration into one's value-hierarchy" Rand might say) is part of what makes something actually and concretely a value out of what may only potentially and abstractly be a value.

4. Action does partially depend on motivation, and motivation does depend on perception of something as valuable, ie., that there is a necessary connection between means and end (along with a lot of other things going on.) If a motivation is supposed to be one's reason for acting, then you have to understand having an end first in order to understand bringing about actions for the sake of the end.

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According to Harry Binswanger, who worked with Rand for ten years, "that which one acts to gain and/or keep" was intended by Rand as an initial characterization of value rather than as the definition of value.

If you have an HBL subscription, Binswanger explains this at length in the thread entitled "Defining "value"--a common misconception among Objectivists", which is post 12067. I think copying and pasting an HBL post to a public forum may violate the terms of use for HBL, so I'm not going to do that.

I'm not sure Objectivism contains a definition of value, strictly speaking.

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