CHAPER X
THE LAWS OF VALUE

We have traversed the preliminary field of study, having examined the several types of materials with which ethics has to do. The physiological factors, the system of desires, the power of control, the emotional content, the explicit judgment, the concept of selfhood, and the place of man in his group are all constituent parts of moral behavior. Before we proceed to discuss the theories of conduct as historically set up, we may pause to analyze still another category, which serves as a basis of all scientific interpretation. The principle of value, conceived under such terms as good, utility, purpose, interest, has been frequently taken as the sole criterion of action. Is this application just? Value is the generic idea of which all subordinate standards are specific forms. Thus, right, which is said to be the equivalent of law in nature, unequivocally binding on all human endeavor, appears on analysis to require an answer to such questions as, why should this rule be accepted as valid? and, how can it make man's habits the sure vehicles of virtue? When Kant falls back upon the moral imperative as the unerring expression of man's rational will, he insensibly turns to the dignity of the self as the ultimate end of all judgment. Unless we can test the worth of an act by the operation of the functions we have described in the preceding chapters, we shall never be in a position to say whether a proposed course of behavior is essentially moral. Hence, the idea of value must be carefully considered.


1. Value, the Cardinal Principle of Conduct.

To set a value on an object or event is to determine what purpose it serves in the economy of our own or our neigh-

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