Public Values and Public Interest: Counterbalancing Economic Individualism

By Barry Bozeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
VALUES, VALUE THEORY,
AND COLLECTIVE ACTION

The cause is hidden; the effect is visible to all.

—OVID, Publius Ovidius Naso

Much of the remainder of this book deals with public values—divining sources of public values, identifying problems in the aggregation of public values, comparing public values with economic values, and exploring the correspondence of public values to public interest. However, before we turn to the discussion of public values and public value criteria in chapter 8, this chapter deals with a prior concern—values and value theory.

Without some consideration of value theory, the particular niche of public values remains cloudy. Sometimes the scholarly work dealing with public interest and public values loses its way by passing over value theory. Scholars in many disciplines, especially philosophy, have devoted prodigious time and resources to fundamental values issues, and much of their work is directly relevant to public values and public interest. By considering some of this basic work, we can reduce the likelihood of a perpetual rediscovery of these fundamental issues of value theory.

This is not to say, however, that scholars concerned with values and values theory have reached much agreement or provided resolutions to significant analytical problems in value analysis. In fact, despite enormous attention to values and value theory, fundamental disagreements remain about such critical issues as the most useful concept of value, the differences between “value” and “valuing,” the possibility for a hierarchy of values, the transitivity of individuals' values, and the justification for values-based collective actions—all issues pertinent to public values and public interest.


VALUES: MULTIPLE CONCEPTS

The concept “values” draws the attention of political theorists, psychologists, sociologists, and especially philosophers. An advantage of this attention is

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