Values and Society

Do our social policies and economic policies really support our values? Do spending priorities in Congress really reflect our values. When someone in Congress or, God help us, on talk radio proposes some social program or piece of legislation we might wonder what values will be supported or undermined?

Sometimes we like to think about what society should be like. Liberals, leftists, progressives, and conservatives all like to opine about how society should work. That’s okay. People should just keep common human values in mind as they fantasize about how things ought to be.

What values should be kept in mind? Hmm, that’s a good question. It really depends on the issue under consideration. ¬†Some values will be more relevant to some issues than to others. I’ll just offer this list of the top ten human values from a 2000 Roper poll: family, health/fitness, self-esteem, self-reliance, honesty, freedom, justice, relationships, knowledge, learning. We could debate what constitutes justice, or a family.

There ought to be a written guide to how those ten values can be supported or undermined by various sorts of programs and policies. There would also be advice on dealing with questions like "What’s the difference between freedom and license?"
and "What definition of ‘family’ should we use?" The guide would contain guidance on predicting the first-order and econd-order consequences of a policy or program or law. First-order consequences? What?

Well, a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning would reduce our freedom a little. That’s a first-order consequence of the amendment. Reduced freedom may lead to flag burning protests. People are likely to lie about their involvement with or support of those flag burnings. Dishonesty is a second-order consequence.

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~ by chetdavis on July 4, 2006.

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