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A set of values that are thought to apply universally.

The discussion of universal values often start off with the discussion of Intrinsic Value versus Extrinsic Value. Roughly stated, something has an intrinsic value when it is valuable "in itself" or "for its own sake"; something has an extrinsic value if it is valuable because of something else.


Historical discussions of universal values Edit

The first philosophical discussions of universal values seemed to occur around the same time: Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), Plato (427 BC – ca. 347 BC), Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), Mencius (372 BC – 289 BC).


Categorising universal valuesEdit

Following Colero we might divide universal values into the following categories

Personal ethics

Personal ethics arise from the our condition as social animals.

  • Care and compassion for others
  • Respect for the autonomy of others
  • Trustworthiness & honesty
  • Obeying the law (with the exception of civil disobedience)
  • Being just and fair
  • Benevolence doing good
  • Preventing harm


Professional ethics

For those of use employed and with responsibilities to others a further set of principles come into play. Often these are formally set down in a written code but even when not such principles are expected in our public life

  • Impartiality and objectivity
  • Openness in our dealings
  • Confidentiality
  • Due diligence and duty of care
  • Fidelity to professional responsibilities
  • Avoiding potential or apparent conflict of interest


Global ethics

On a wider scale, with our growing knowledge of the world a number of further principles can be identified

  • Global justice (as reflected in international laws)
  • Society before self / social responsibility
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Interdependence & responsibility for the ‘whole’
  • Reverence for place


Contemporary issues related to universal values Edit

Some of the most contentious debates today are also debates over universal values: the abortion debate, capital punishment debate, globalization and its backlash.



See also Edit

External links Edit

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