A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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So we have, throughout this second book, examined several inessential aspects of axiology: the insertion of such a project in our epoch, the reconfiguration of the field of knowledge entailed by the rise of this discipline, its practical or theoretical nature, etc.
These features are inessential, for we might imagine that the content of axiology could be found, even if these questions were not answered. The essential character of a discipline is probably its method. As Descartes said, it were far better never to think of investigating truth at all, than to do so without a method 1. Indeed, all truths that could be found out at the end of the axiological investigation, as well as the process applied to discover them, result from the method chosen.
My third moment of reflection shall be devoted to the development of this method: this will enable me to give an overview of the results that we are likely to achieve, by means of it.


III/ Proposal for a method for axiology


I/ Where to find the value of things?



A/ In the object?


When we seek the value of things, our natural instinct is probably to look for it in the things themselves. I call “axiological objectivism” this reflex. Value is scrutinized in the very thing, in the heart of it, and is examined in different ways, by several methods; it is by studying the world itself that we shall find out its value.

The failure of this perspective is obvious, if we admit that values are still unfounded. We have already examined some of the implicit methods that the objectivism has used: the qualitative method, the hedonistic one… but we have now to consider the two methods that have been privileged by objectivism, and properly conceptualized: intuitionism, and formal axiologies.


1/ The axiological intuitionism


1/ Presentation of the intuitionism of values

Maybe it is improper to consider intuitionism as a “method”. As a matter of fact, a method may be defined as a set of processes, of “tricks”, which will be used to reach a truth which cannot be achieved immediately. A method presents the rules by the mediation of which we will achieve a goal. But what the axiological intuitionism precisely claims, is that there is no need of the mediation of this or that rule, in order to find out the value of something, since this value is immediately given to us.

Furthermore, a method is a set of rules that serves to find the solution of a problem. For intuitionism, on the contrary, the problem does not arise. By this, I do not mean that for this doctrine the solution of the problem of values is obvious, but more radically: there is no problem of values at all. The value of this or that thing is immediately apparent to us, and we need not examine it. Everyone knows what has a value, and what has not, because a faculty in us, intuition, reveals it to us at once.

In this respect, those who ask about the problem of values appear as these philosophers who “have first raised a dust, and then […] complain that [they] can’t see”, described by Berkeley in his Principles of human knowledge. In other words: the philosophical reflection has not helped the human mind to discover a problem, the problem of values, but has artificially created a false problem where there are only solutions, or rather – since a solution presupposes a preliminary problem- only facts.

1. Rules for the direction of mind, IV