- A pantheon of public values: an historical and conceptual approach to the normativity of facts and values
- The public values consortium biennial workshop 2012: Beyond conceptualization: integrating public values to inform policy & management
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The enormous diversity of possible public values seems to require a pantheon to house them, yet, even though this pantheon is a public temple, it is crowded with statutes of individual gods and goddesses.
This paper deals with two intertwined issues concerning the nature of public values, both rely on misunderstanding the conceptual nature of values. First, the epistemological separation of facts and values, and second the ontological reductionist view of public values as ultimately having an individualistic foundation.
The impossibility to delineating the number of (public) values results from the normativity of administrative reality: values are not simply separable from facts. Contrary to the common opinion, it are not the facts that matter, but the values; or rather facts only matter in terms of being valued as relevant. If values and fact are both analyzed in terms of different uses of concept, we should be aware of the possible factual and valuational impact of all concepts, especially in a political-administrative context that (indirectly) relies on a fact-value distinction to begin with.
Second, the increased awareness of the importance and relevance of public values obscures that at closer examination, most authors actually have an individualistic ontology, i.e., public values are regarded as only existing in terms of individual values. However, even though individuals are the carriers or agents of public values, this does not warrant the (dominant) interpretation is that individuals are the prime, if not only source of values. This (again) overlooks the conceptual nature of values. Values as (linguistic) concepts are social constructs, and as such not simply the prerogative of individuals. What people value, what they can value, is determined and delineated by the social context. Just as there is no individual language, there are no individual values in the sense usually attributed to them. As a consequence it is of importance to capture the social nature of public values in order to better understand their meaning and origins.
- Publisher: University of Illinois
Place of publication: Chicago
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