Thursday, March 31, 2011

Values and perspectivism

There was once a famous person (forget who) long ago that remarked that if music could some how be recorded and available to everyone, life would be all glory and rose petals for everyone. It would be utopia. But we know that ain't so. The universal availability of music has not made life heaven on earth. As soon as something desired is widely available, its value in our eyes seem to diminish according to some pattern or other of diminishing return. I think behavioral economists have names for this but I don't know what the literature on it is.

Now consider if we are to solve all of the world's most pressing issues of global injustice, energy problems, racism, sexism, etc. Maybe other problems which we may not see as that pressing now would take their place in our valuation systems. We might develop irrational fears of death even from old age or disease, etc. We may even develop whole new neuroses we can imagine fretting over now. Our value structures would change and problems once that pressing might not be seen as such and problems not so pressing relatively speaking. Alternatively people in the future may see our present concerns as neurotically intense or even irrational compared to theirs.

My question is that does this perspectivism threaten the claim that values are objective and non arbitrary? If so How far does it go in that direction? Will we see all our current worries as just neuroses? Maybe all of our values are arbitrary and largely determined by perspective. That would harm claims that go to the heart of the good life it seems by making all conceptions seem trivial.

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