Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The value-based theory of practical reasons (VBT) is the idea that any practical reason that can be given for performing a task can be explained in terms of value. 'Value' here means not just monetary value, but also instrumental value, such as pleasure or companionship. This article (29 page PDF) gives an account of the theory and then several reasons to question it with relation to (say) keeping promises, following orders or ensuring equitable distribution - reasons why actions may be good even though the action produces no particular value. This (to me, and in a broader sense) undermines the idea that 'good actions' are based on reason at all, not even practical reasons. The paper is an interesting read, gives you background into VBT and its objections, though it's written in that typically analytical philosophical language. Image: Schwartz theory of basic values.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Sept 27, 2020 1:57 p.m.