Values and Value Judgments

Value judgments judge things to be good or bad in some respect. Moral or ethical values are only one type of value, and moral evaluation is only one type of value judgment.

Consider the following nine value judgments:

  1. This is a good (important, significant) hypothesis.
  2. That is a good (insightful or informative) article.
  3. This is a good (beautiful, masterfully executed) symphony.
  4. That is a good (prudent or effective) strategy.
  5. This is a bad (stupid, short-sighted) idea.
  6. That is a good (virtuous, of high moral character) person.
  7. This is a bad (evil, vicious) motive.
  8. That is a good (kind, generous or right-minded) act or deed.
  9. That is the right thing to do.

The first two are judgments of epistemic or knowledge value. The third is an aesthetic judgment. The fourth and fifth are prudential judgments. The sixth, seventh, and eighth are moral judgments. The ninth is also a moral judgment that is similar in some respects to the eighth, although the presence of "the" rather than "a" in the ninth suggests that the act in question is uniquely acceptable.

Assertions such as the ninth are usually justified by an appeal to moral rules, often to the exclusion of any mention of consequences. There are other types of value and value judgments that also come into play in ethics, such as those related to prudence or to religious value. Religious terms of evaluation include "sacred" and "holy," as contrasted with "profane" and "mundane." In addition to purely religious judgments, the practice of most religions also involves making moral or ethical judgments.

Cite this page: "VALUES AND VALUE JUDGMENTS" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/18/2006 National Academy of Engineering Accessed: Sunday, February 14, 2016 <>