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Values and Goals

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rkamasam
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Is there a clear distinction between "goals" and "values?" Are they two distinct concepts with two different sets of referents, or are they two different perspectives on the same facts. Throughout objectivist ethics one gets the view that these two concepts are used interchangeably.

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Throughout objectivist ethics one gets the view that these two concepts are used interchangeably.

It might be better if you can cite an example of what you are talking about.

I would offer that a goal is the concrete realization of what must be accomplished (or striven for) to achieve a value. For instance, if I value justice, it might be my goal to assist in the prosecution of the thief I just observed stealing a car.

Or in other words, in Objectivism a value is defined as something one acts to gain or keep. A goal is that action one is taking to gain or keep a particular value or values.

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The concepts of goal and value are closely related, but I don't think they are quite interchangable. Consider an example:

1. My goal is save enough money to buy a car in 6 months.

2. I value money and cars.

In this example, a goal is of a state of affairs toward which one strives. A value, on the other hand, is that which one acts to gain or keep. Goal seems to be a wider concept, in that it is a purpose or objective that can involve several values simultaneously. It wouldn't make sense to substitute "value" in place of "goal" in (1) -- "I value that state of affairs when I have enough money to buy a car in 6 months." Using 'goal' is much more natural.

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Is n't virtue the action required to achieve a value??

'Virtue' is still a broader abstraction than 'goal'. When Ayn Rand refers to 'virtue' as the action required to achieve ones values, she is referring to the broad mental integration (or recognition) that a particular type of behavior is necessary to achieve one's values. In that respect, a virtue is a singular action. However, being virtuous means that each time one must make a choice and act on it, one must act in a virtuous manner. This requires ongoing action (or multiple actions). For example, if I value justice, it behooves me to act in a just manner. I have recognized that I should treat each person in the manner in which they deserve based on their actions. It would be just for me to assist in the prosecution of a thief instead of giving him the sanction of my inaction. It would be just for me to praise the accomplishments of my son instead of belittling him. I could give more examples of just behavior, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say. Thus, if I continue act justly each time I must act, I am being a just (or virtuous) person.

In retrospect, it may have been less confusing for me to have said, "A goal is that action one is taking within a given context to gain or keep a particular value or values". I can see how my previous wording in that sentence was less clear.

Edited by RationalBiker
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I think "virtue" refers to the action undertaken/required in the context of "moral values" and goal refers to the action in the context of all values.

I'm not sure I understand you distinction. Can you please explain how you differentiate "moral values" and "all values".

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I am basing it on the distinction that "moral values" are a sub-set of "values." Moral values are principles and are a guide to action. In otherwords, moral values are the standards by which we judge our individual choices and actions in any given context as moral and immoral. They help us to reduce a vast range of choices and actions under a single concept/principle. Where as the concept "value" includes all values, moral or otherwise (material and spirutual etc..). Hope this makes sense.

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Moral values are principles and are a guide to action.
The problem lies here: I suggest you refer to them as "moral principles". For an intrinsicist it may actually be correct to refer to moral principles as "moral values", since they consider obedience to moral dicta to be in and of itself the moral virtue. For an Objectivist, a moral principle exists as a statement of what actions are pro-life for you, and the correctness of those principles (and thus the actions that they refer to) is judged by the standard of life. Principles are not the same as values.
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