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Is Morality Necessary?

Value systems, apparent and professed

G1 Let us now consider 'value systems'. More, let us consider the relationship between a 'value system', and 'apparent value system', and a 'professed value system'. One expects there to be some relationship between someones values and their behaviour, both verbal and non-verbal. The only way we have of discovering someone elses values is by listening to their words and observing their deeds. I mean by 'professed value system', that value system which we might reasonably attribute to him on the basis of what he says about his values; by 'apparent value system' I mean that value system which we would attribute to him on the evidence provided by his deeds and those of his utterences which do not appear to be deliberate declarations of his values. Finally, when I use value system unqualified I mean something which may be distinct from both the apparent and the professed value system, knowledge of which is private to its possessor.

G2 'professed value systems' are, at least initially the most straightforward of these. One best discovers someones professed value system by asking them what it is that they value, and how much, and then by listening to their reply (an essential step). There is no limit to the sort of thing someone might profess to value when thus provoked, so long as we have the language to describe it or rather, refer to it, then we can proceed to attach value to it. 'apparent value systems' are more awkward. We can certainly include in someones 'apparent value system' those activities to which he is predisposed, those surroundings, people and objects which he often seeks out. 'certainly' is a bit too strong there, for there are great difficulties. If we were to include all these things then we would be including many things which could be more naturally described as things suffered in order to realise something else valued.

G3 I don't want to engage too closely in these problems here. For my present purposes it is sufficient to make clear that both apparent and professed value systems can be considered as estimates of someones value system. The latter estimate is the on which we would arrive at if we were to take him at his word, their professed value system. If we don't take any account of their explicit remarks on their value system, but nevertheless try to estimate as best we can, by whatever means we think best, then we arrive at their apparent value system.

G4 What, then, is someones 'value system' if it is neither his professed value system nor his apparent value system? Surely all there is to a person is his physical equipment (arms, legs, etc), and his behaviour, and his words, unless his value system is manifest in these things then it is just so much mythology. This is a sort of behaviourist doctrine. I do not intend to answer this objection here, but I do intend to take a contrary position. I shall proceed under this assumption: that people have private mental experiences which, though usually related to their behaviour and words, are not a 'logical construction' from their behaviour and words. The relationship between the mental and the physical I shall assume for the moment to be at best contingent. It is therefore possible for someone to have a value system which is radically different to both his professed value system and his apparent value system. In such a case we, as observers, could not detect the discrepancy, though the subject himself might be aware of it. By 'possible', above, I do mean mere logical possibility. N13


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