On Values. Universal or Relative?

Ratio Juris 9 (4):321-330 (1996)
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Any value statement belongs to a certain value code shared, to a certain degree, by a number of people. Is the value code itself relative or not? To solve this problem, one must assume that universal value statements and principles always have a prima‐facie character. Prima‐facie value propositions not only claim universality but can also be understood as universally valid in the following sense. First, their validity does not depend on an individual's free preferences. Second, although they are culture‐bound, there is something all cultures must have in common. But such prima‐facie propositions do not logically imply a moral judgement in any particular case. They are merely a starting point of an evaluation procedure, i.e., of weighing and balancing, nothing more. On the other hand, the final (contextual, all things considered) evaluations are necessarily relative to a certain culture and, indeed, to individual preferences. When claiming universality of values, people see the first side of the problem. When endorsing relativism, they see only the second side.



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On Certainty (ed. Anscombe and von Wright).Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1969 - San Francisco: Harper Torchbooks. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe, G. H. von Wright & Mel Bochner.
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