Axiology is the study of values and valuations in ethics and aesthetics. Earlier scientists and philosophers (Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Gottfried Leibnitz) had previously tried to create a science of ethics but until Hartman discovered his axioms on good and the structure of value, none existed. From his foundational theory on how to understand good and evil, Hartman developed formal axiology – which applies a mathematical calculus to measure how people make value judgments. He succeeded in taking a philosophical inquiry into the scientific realm with a calculas that measures how people make ethical judgments (good, bad valuations) or aesthetic valuations based on aesthetic judgment.
The Nature of Good
Until Hartman created his axiom of the knowledge of good, theorists attempts to understand ‘good and ‘evil’ resulted in little more than substituting adjectives and synonyms. The noted ethics philosopher, G.E.Moore, frustratedly declared that no one could define or understand ‘good’ because ‘good is an unanalyzable concept’. (Hartman, 1967, Structure of Value, p101). In fact, Hartman successfully analyzed ‘good’ and his axiom became the foundation of new scientific pursuits in axiology. He objectively defined good as a concept which fulfills all its properties for being good. This axiom undoubtedly needs unpacking: Imagine the properties of a chair (eg, four equal-length legs, seat and back). When we find a chair with one leg missing or broken back – we may describe it as a poor, not good or bad chair. When all of the properties are present in any concept – that concept is fulfilled and we call that ‘good’. We may value one chair as good, and another better based on other subjective criteria (comfort, colour, price) but as long as it is a chair because it by definition fulfils the properties of one, Hartman calls that concept-fulfilment.
As we value and make valuations, we are making decisions on a thing’s importance
to us. We may value something as good and something else as being better, worse,
or bad. According to Hartman, when we are valuing things we are deciding what is good and how good it is. We ascribe
levels of goodness to things. It is possible to value three kinds of things – called the Dimensions of Value – which is another important axiom Hartman discovered to help explain the structure of value.
I.E.S – The Dimensions of Value
Hartman’s three dimensions of value is a
useful axiom through which to understand valuation theory. All concepts can be organised
into these dimensions:
Generally, intrinsic values are those that are unique, conscious beings,
like people, their feelings, their individual characters.
Extrinsic refers to the everyday physical world of functions, processes, activities
and objects that can be compared to each other, like houses, sports or
The systemic dimension is for complete concepts that exist
as a whole like systems of thought, ideologies and philosophies. Systemic
concepts include things like ideas, music, mathematics, plans, organisation,
statements, structure, graphs, judgments, propositions.
One simplification of the three dimensions sees these as
people (I) things (E) and ideas (S) respectively. As we change the value
being considered, these dimensions will adapt accordingly. For example,
the concept of thinking could be seen
in three dimensions; intuitive thinking
is intrinsic, pragmatic thinking is
extrinsic while logical or rational
thinking would be systemic.
All these dimensions are measurable and can tested by an axiological
assessment which was first developed by Robert Hartman in creating his
Value Profile. The institute exists to protect, educate and develop
Hartman’s legacy in Value Science.