A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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It was in fact a disappearance; we can see this simply by considering what this theory asserted. If "to seek moral value is to seek what is moral", one wonders what additional content of meaning the concept of value in the sentence between inverted commas brings. It seems that it is nothing but an empty shell, a sound that supports no concept: the concept of value disappears entirely under that of morality.
Similarly, if we maintain that "to seek aesthetic value is to seek what is beautiful", we find that the concept of value disappears behind that of beauty, and that it has no meaning in itself. Finally, and more generally, if we say that "to seek the value of a quality X is to seek what is X", we remove all meaning from the concept of value. Or rather, the only meaning it is likely to have is that of essence; in other words, we consider that to seek the value of X is to determine what is part of the essence of X. However, the concept of value is obviously radically different from that of essence.

So perhaps we can see the aberrations to which the confusion of value and quality leads us. If, on the other hand, we admit that they are two autonomous concepts, irreducible to each other, then we free the concept of value, let it unfold in its own specificity, and make us possible to understand the axiological question: does this or that quality X have a value?

We then realise that value "overhangs" the notion of quality, in that it is on the basis of value that all qualities will be examined in the axiological enquiry, or that value is meta-qualitative (if meta means: external to and superior to), in that it belongs to an entirely different sphere from that of qualities. This reveals the proper domain of axiology: its purpose is not to ask whether something is just, beautiful, true, etc., but to ask whether justice, beauty, truth, etc. have value. In fact, it leaves it to morality, aesthetics and science to determine whether something is just, beautiful or true.

We are not looking to see if morality has a moral value, or beauty an aesthetic value, or if courage has a courageous value, or fear a fearful value... but we are looking to see if all these qualities have a value, a concept whose meaning remains unchanged whatever the quality. So, as far as we can see, there are no kinds of value. This is why we propose to conclude as follows: value only has meaning in the singular.
Nevertheless, because the term values in the plural has become established in usage, we will continue to use it in the plural, while insisting on the fact that by doing so we are not implying that there are several kinds of value.
This confusion, which might seem merely grammatical, seems to have had an extremely important consequence, which I now propose to examine.

The human sciences seem to pursue an ideal of scientificity and objectivity (even if many researchers take a critical step back from this ideal), which they translate into the principle of neutrality, which we would define as follows: the prohibition of any recourse to a value in the explanation of a historical or social phenomenon. Or again, the prohibition on mixing judgements of fact and judgements of value. Strictly scientific explanation must not involve any kind of value judgement; only judgements of fact, and hypotheses for linking, classifying and explaining these facts, have the right to be cited.

Since value has been confused with qualities, it is not only value that has been expelled from the field of the human sciences, but also qualities. Our distinction between value and quality leads us to rethink the legitimacy of this expulsion, as far as qualities are concerned.