The Value Change team is organizing an international online workshop series on Explaining Value Change. On multiple dates in April and May 2021, international experts will discuss fundamental questions regarding our understanding of the phenomenon of value change.
This workshop series aims to shed light on this under-investigated topic of value change. Despite its seemingly common enough occurrence, it is not clear what value change amounts to. Is value change simply a change in what people value, or is it a change in what is (objectively) valuable? The first step towards a clearer understanding of value change is to make headway on what exactly we need to explain when we want to explain value change. The workshop will bring together internationally leading scholars on philosophical value theory to explore the topic of value change.
The primary aim of the workshop series is to deepen our understanding of the phenomenon of value change from a value theoretic perspective. Furthermore, a secondary aim is to use that deepened understanding to explore the role of technology in value change. The series will provide an occasion to explore fundamental questions about value and value change. Each session will feature a 30 minute presentation and 90 minute of in-depth discussion.
Confirmed Speakers and dates
- Thursday 15 April 2021, 17.00 pm (CEDT): Graham Oddie (University of Colorado, USA)
- Thursday 22 April 2021, 17.00 pm (CEDT): Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund University, Sweden)
- Thursday 29 April 2021, 17.00 pm (CEDT): Valerie Tiberius (University of Minnesota, USA)
- Thursday 6 May 2021, 17.00 pm (CEDT): Krister Bykvist (Stockholm University, Sweden)
The possibility of value in flux: a realist’s perspective
What we value obviously changes, but can value itself change? Metaphysical realism about value would appear to sit uneasily with value in flux, at least in part because it denies the reducibility of value to our changing attitudes to value. Certainly Platonic realism about value would seem to sit most happily not only with the timelessness of the fundamental structure of value, but also with its metaphysical necessity. The Forms are the ultimate value bearers, according to the Platonist, and their participation in the overarching Form of the Good is beholden neither to time nor to chance. While unchanging value might be the most obvious resting place for the value realist, there is at least one version of a robust value realism which does make logical space for genuine and interesting cases of change in value. In this presentation I will outline a realist framework which accommodates both aspects of value: the necessary and the timeless as well as the contingent and the fleeting.
Forming Value Judgments by Aggregation, and How It Differs from Aggregation of Preferences
This talk focuses on the contrast between two ways of changing attitudes by aggregating the individual attitudes in a collective. One takes its departure from individual preferences r and the other has as its input individual value judgments. The former results in a new preferential state, the latter in a new evaluation. The targeted case is one in which the two aggregation scenarios exhibit a far-reaching structural similarity: the individual preferences to be aggregated are purely ordinal – they are preference rankings – and the individual judgments exhibit the same structure: they are value rankings. I will argue that, despite of their formal similarity, the difference in the nature of inputs in those two aggregation scenarios has important implications: the kind of procedure that seems fine for aggregation of value rankings is arguably inappropriate for aggregation of preferences. The relevant procedure consists in similarity maximization, or – more precisely – in minimization of weighted average distance from individual inputs. It is shown that, whatever distance measure is chosen, distance-based procedures violate the (strong) Pareto condition. This seems alright as the aggregation of value rankings goes, but would not be acceptable for preference aggregation.
Well-Being, Value Change, and Subconscious Goals
According to one familiar and compelling way to think about well-being, goal fulfillment or its ilk (desire satisfaction or value realization) is central to a prudentially good life. Typically, theories in this family take the relevant goals to be conscious goals. However, we know from the psychology of goal seeking agency that many goals occur below the level of consciousness. Might subconscious goals also be important to well-being? I argue that an affirmative answer to this question leads us to some insights about the process of value change, which in turn helps us to solve some long-standing problems for these subjective theories of well-being.
Well-being in a flux?
The fact that our attitudes change, both across time and across worlds, poses well-known challenges for attitude-sensitive well-being theories. Take Kierkegaard’s famous conundrum, for example: If I were to get married, I would prefer being unmarried; if I were to remain being unmarried, I would prefer being married. Which life is better for me? Or take a temporal analogue: in the past I favoured my adventurous youthful life more than the quiet and unassuming life I expected to live as an old man; now when I look back I favour my current life more than my youthful past life. Which period of my life is better for me? More generally, is there a stable standard of well-being we can appeal to in these cases, or do we have to accept that the wellbeing value of a life (or part of a life) can change across worlds or times?
In my talk, I will present an ‘attitudinal matrix’ framework that will help us clear up the problems posed by changing attitudes, with a special focus on change across time. In particular, the framework will help us see what is at stake, which principles that can or cannot be combined, and what might be the best solution. More specifically, I shall argue that a plausible attitude-sensitive well-being theory does not have to accept that values can change.
We will send the meeting link and finalized programm to all registered participants in due time.
More informations about the workshop can be found here.