2.16 Value

Category: Ethics

Keywords: valuable, goodness, happiness, valuation, value, intrinsically, happy, values, sake, good, desired, desirable, intrinsic, bad, goods

Number of Articles: 347
Percentage of Total: 1.1%
Rank: 41st

Weighted Number of Articles: 368.2
Percentage of Total: 1.1%
Rank: 33rd

Mean Publication Year: 1959.6
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1963.1
Median Publication Year: 1956
Modal Publication Year: 1950

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0609)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Dewey and Pragmatism (0.045)
Topic with Least Overlap: Quantum Physics (0.00044)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Wide Content (0.00133)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the valuetopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1877 when 3.5% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1887 when 0.2% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.16 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.43: Value.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Valuetopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 1.0%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 1.1%. Ethics - 2.6%. Philosophical Review - 1.2%. Analysis - 0.8%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.9%. Journal of Philosophy - 1.6%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 1.3%. Philosophy of Science - 0.6%. Noûs - 0.6%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.1%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.4%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1877 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 3.5% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1887 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.2% of the articles.

Figure 2.44: Value articles in each journal.

Table 2.39: Characteristic articles of the value topic.
Table 2.40: Highly cited articles in the value topic.


The model divides up the ethics topics more finely than I would like, but this one is reasonably clear. It’s about axiology i.e., the theory of value, fairly broadly construed. Happiness is often taken to be central to what’s valuable, so there are articles about happiness in here. I worried that the model might confuse moral value with values of variables, but it seemed to understand that difference. It did end up thinking this topic had more to do with aesthetics than with the rest of ethics, but that’s one spot where I feel free to override the model.

One of the most important articles in this topic is “The Naturalistic Fallacy” by William Frankena (1939). Frankena studied at Oxford, and this paper is from his doctoral thesis. He moved to the University of Michigan and stayed for all his career, serving as chair for fourteen years, and as president of the (then) Western Division of the APA. Much of Frankena’s influence comes from his books, but he has twelve articles in the journals I’m investigating, and five of them are in this topic.

The model isn’t entirely sure what to say about “The Naturalistic Fallacy”, but I think it ultimately makes the right call on it.

Table 2.41: W. K. Frankena, “The Naturalistic Fallacy.”
Subject Probability
Value 0.2667
Analytic/synthetic 0.1432
Definitions 0.1355
Moral conscience 0.1271
Arguments 0.0808
Deduction 0.0585
Ordinary language 0.0524
Composition and constitution 0.0281
Early modern 0.0266
Propositions and implications 0.0217

All of the top four topics there make sense. The paper is about Moorean conceptions of goodness, so naturally it’s about value. It’s about the definability of “good”, and which principles in that definition might be analytic, so naturally those two topics turn up as well. And a crucial conclusion of the paper is that what Mooreans should say is that their opponents lack a certain kind of moral insight, something continuous with the discussions of moral conscience. So I think the model did a reasonable job of classifying Frankena’s important early paper.

I’ll come back later in the book to Frankena’s esteemed colleagues at Michigan, especially Charles Stevenson and Richard Brandt.