Sometimes values are derived from effective principles, but often times, they’re just based on a certain societies’ world view. At the end of the day, values are just opinions.
Principles are timeless laws of the universe. They just exist without any human intervention. They are not man made. Some principles emerge from man made intervention with the real world, but they are not created by man.
So what are some good examples of some widely known principles. Scarcity is a a good one. Its a law people operate on whether they like it or not. When something is scarce, its value is is greater than when it isn’t. When there’s a shortage of crops, certain vegetables are worth more because there are a lot less of them.
Stamps and coins produced in short productions are also valued more than the common coin in circulation. People are the same. If you have twenty friends and one of them hasn’t called you in a week, you won’t get stressed out about it, but if you only have ONE friend and they don’t talk to you for a week, you begin to worry. Their friendship is very valuable to you. It isn’t like you don’t care about them if you have more friends, but when you have less, you can’t get it from anywhere else, so you begin to worry.
Another Principle is that of expectation. If something negative happens outside of your expectations, you’ll be incredibly upset, but if something positive happens outsie of your expectations, you’re usually really happy about it.
Lets look at an example of this principle used by businesses. Newegg.com is a great example of a company that takes advantage of this principle. When I order from NewEgg, they give me a delivery estimate of five to seven business days. The product always arrives around three days. It’s an unexpected, but wonderful surprise.
The reason this works so well with them is because principles are universal. Values are not. Different cultures have different values that are usually based on nothing but personal feelings towards something.
For example, sex before marriage is viewed as bad practice in some cultures. This is a value, not a principle. People will defend their values with inconclusive claims all day long because they have a personal attachment to them, not because they are effective for society or themselves. It’s because they feel like the world is working the way it’s “suppose to” work and now they can go to sleep at night.
Some values are effective. Like treating people with respect. When people are treated with respect, they usually have a warm response to you. This value is based on a principle so it is effective.
People focus too much on “right” and “wrong” which are opinion based. “Effective” and “ineffective” are better determining factors of a behavior.
Killing someone, for example is considered “wrong” by many, but it depends who you ask. Some people are awarded medals for killing the most people in war. Some people are killed (death penalty) for killing other people. There is no right or wrong here because everyone can argue their point of view until the end of time.
Instead, making a point of a behavior being effective or ineffective is a better argument. In that case, their is a clearer answer. Killing someone because of a disagreement for example, is ineffective because the risk to reward ratio isn’t in your favor. If you kill someone, you risk going to jail or possibly death yourself. Even if there is no law against murder, you now risk those around you feeling differently towards you or the friends and family of the person you killed coming after you. There is too much to lose for that. Saying it’s “wrong” to kill doesn’t explain anything.
If someone breaks into your house, pulls out a gun and starts shooting at you, misses, but you happen to pull out your gun and kill him or her, then that is effective. Killing in that situation had a number of benefits. For one, you’re alive. If you have a family or loved ones in the house, you’ve successfully protected them. The risk taken, compared to your other options was minimal. Now, those around you will consider you a hero.
Being simple minded about “right” and “wrong” is an ineffective way to view the world.
Prostitution is another one where values are based on personal feelings and personal feels alone. What are the negatives and positives to prostitution?
Well, for starters, prostitution is legal in some parts of the USA and there are really no risks because of the controlled environment. It is true that prostitutes that work illegally have a riskier business, but that’s because the system made it that way.
People feel offended by prostitution because they feel like its dirty and disrespectful. The key word here is “feel” because when they try to defend their values about it, they usually draw dead.
The next argument is the spread of disease. Condoms exist for a reason. Neither the prostitute or the customer would want to take that risk. If they do, for whatever reason, it’s very likely the other party will request or use one. If not, hey, it’s their choice.
It’s not different than drinking or smoking. Those are personal risks people choose to take. We don’t need a babysitter.
To put the cherry on top, having multiple sex partners is legal, but whenever money is involved, now it suddenly becomes illegal. Hmmm……
Although some may be uncomfortable with the idea of prostitution, it’s not correct to call it “wrong”. The most that can be said is “I am uncomfortable with it”, but trying to generalize a negative about it is a very narrowing habit.
Think in term of principles and operate based on them. Don’t reduce your standards and have your life revolve around values.