Critical Thinking: Value Judgements



oftentimes philosophers sociologists other people in social sciences will talk about the difference between fat versus value and they will stress that the facts how can you tell if they're true or false think about really simple facts like this is full copy yeah you could look at it although you know in the case of it being coffee just looking at it that might satisfy you yeah I mean it could also be Kahlua right could be you know drinking on the job wouldn't be the first professor to ever do that and in life yeah you wouldn't know until you actually test it with some sort of means that corresponds to the fact there are some facts so you can if you to tell this by looking are the how many students are in the classroom and I could couch them up I haven't done that and I'm not going to do it right right this second but I can tell that by looking if I doubt whether somebody is really there maybe you know they're great you know signed by tech whiz then created a hologram so they can sit in class and get credit for class I could maybe you know talk to them and see whether my hand goes through them I won't do that to you because you know not because I'm not crediting you for being smart but I think you wouldn't like that and they would take a lot of class time so fanswers they're things that we generally think we can agree on all right we can appeal to our senses this is there may be some facts that you can't directly verify today like John Kennedy was assassinated where were the assassinated during a parade yeah where oh do you thinking about really think it was assassinated – yeah now how would you verify facts like this well you can't do it directly but you know we rely on historians and those historians altima they're relying on something that people supposedly saw these are these Republic right now when it comes to value judgments a lot of people said well you can never really be sure about value judgments what do we mean by value judgments this is a good book this is a bad book actually as far as this text book goes my estimation of it is it's not good that it's not totally bad I've never seen a text book that I would say oh this is this is great because I don't think those those actually exist but it's you know it's not totally bad there are some things in it that are good there are some things that are misleading that point those out to you right so that you don't get confused but that's a value judgment you might disagree with me on that right how many of you spend a lot of time with that I don't ask company to spend a long time with the textbook I'll credit all of you with having done that how many do you think it said it's a really good textbook compared to some of the other ones yeah few people right how many of you think it's a terrible textbook well nobody thinks it's awful okay how many of you say yeah that's a value judgment by the way right it's not expressed as a statement but it is making a value judgment yeah yeah you know it's okay somebody hands you have a hamburger from a fast-food joint you take a bite and unless you're really really hungry you don't usually I've ever had in my life the way with it when it's right off the grill and on a backyard barbecue but you know he don't sit oh this is this is this tastes awful that's a value different and we disagree about value judgments just like we do disagree about facts but we often think that we can't meaningfully disagree about values you've got your values I've got mine you know where's we just met or born with them or we get them from our requirements and we can't meaningfully argue about them so today what I'm going to say to you this is what I'd really like you to carry from this class is yes you can't argue about value judgments and you have to argue about value judgments if you want to be a decent person you cannot go through your life without confronting other people about their value judgments and examining your own value judgments and seeing whether you have good grounds for leading them these are both statements which means that they are what claims right and the same basic thing happens when somebody makes a claim and we disagree with that we can for an argument so it doesn't matter whether it's a fact statement you know the cup is full of coffee prove it or if it's a value station we may not be able to come to agreement but that's a very different issue about whether we can have arguments whether we can make claims a lot of people confuse these two issues one issue is whether we can make claims about values the other is whether we can get everybody to agree those are not the same issue at all and a lot of people screw up their lives by confusing those two issues because you can't actually find arguments that you'll find convincing one way or the other about values part of your growth as a student and then part of your growth is a human being for the rest of your life is in fact sometimes changing your mind about values you know everybody who has gone and we have a few older students the older students can tell you as you as you get older as you acquire more experience you acquire new perspectives on things and your values change when you have a kid providing not a terrible parent that changes your values as well the reorients though so we'll come back to this issue about agreement disagree on another thing that I want to talk about but I think you'll find useful really distinguishes between two different kinds of value judgment and that's because it places them on a scale and your book talks about what we can call aesthetic and that's on one extreme right and then it on the other side began moral agents now there's there's other things in between I add another category that your book touches on a little bit but doesn't really define that carefully what we call practical then we might distinguish a few more but I want to keep it fairly simple and I want you to see the differences between these so aesthetic when you do that term how many of you know what that term means right off the bat – okay so when you hear that term what do you associate that with tape peeling – a person looks okay those are all very good my mother actually was a secretary most of her working life and one of her jobs was to work at a place that was called the school of aesthetics and cosmetology and what that meant was hairdressing and makeup school because you know aesthetics is about books it's about what makes things pleasing but it income this is more than just what appeals to the eyes whether this coffee is is tasty or not that's a matter of aesthetics when you listen to music all of you I'm sure enjoy so music and dislikes alone loser right and there are probably a lot of different reasons if you are called upon to explain why you like listening to this group and you don't like this other group that seems pretty similar to them you would have some reasons that you can get all of those are matters case or appreciation or feeling so you know let's think for a moment before we go to the other extreme what does this encompass so yes right clearly it involves what about good people people yeah you can say that somebody is aesthetically pleasing or not some people are more attractive with a people a less attractive and you can change that too I mean that the whole idea behind that school of aesthetics and cosmetology what's the point behind makeup it takes people who are at one level and then if they if this put on right if it's put on wrong it makes it works not enough but if it's put on right it makes things makes people more attractive or sometimes it is just not to not make them look old you know like newscasters when they're on stage and make them HDTV is kind of interferes that's because all the cracks in people's face and it's not raising isn't we have certain things that as human beings we don't feel fully a degree but there are certain basics that you can appeal to for attractiveness of face you know one of the most important character systems other than you know having two eyes and what's up T yeah you know that's important having them to begin with the whiteness of them that's why you see so many commercials for whitening your teeth it's actually symmetry when they when they test people to find out who they think are attractive it turns out that on average most people find people whose left side is very similar to the right side attractive yeah I mean psychologists can tell us a lot of interesting things about human behavior this way and if you actually want to see whether your face is symmetrical or not you can get a special mirror and you'll find out probably your face is not perfectly symmetrical your right side looks different than you all side and if your right side looks you know very close to your left side probably going to be rated as more attractive now there's other features you know but we disagree about them too knowing they've forgotten into an argument about who's attractive and who's not attractive yeah that's because these are matters of taste those are personal there's some cultural parts to this right there there are things that are seen as attractive here because of our culture for instance in our culture for say a 20 year old woman better to be better to be having worth it then right what about in Egypt it's the opposite if you're them there's something wrong with you nobody wants to marry you so some of these things can be culturally influenced that's if you look at the artwork from different time periods we don't know this so much with men because as far as you can tend to like to paint in a women a lot more and most areas for men but you can see different body types over time that's what they liked they didn't all like you know so when you look at a medieval painting you're like she doesn't owe you are coming to a different judgment about taste than they have they had a different what we call different aesthetic so people music what else art yeah as a matter of fact there's a whole division of philosophy called aesthetics where we studied what makes things beautiful what else you know tastes yeah people spend a lot of money on their animals don't they getting them you know groomed you know who told E and they did it shaved in certain ways and all that some people like chihuahuas so that people can't stand them that's a matter of aesthetics what about food it tied around with food except insofar as it has to do with you know is it healthy for you has to do with aesthetics why do you pay more going to a restaurant other than the fact that you know they want to make some money off of you what are you actually paying for when you go to a good restaurant anchor quality fluid of ingredients and then how its prepared but you're also paying for somebody to plane it for you to plate it in an aesthetically pleasing way and you're also paying for the ambience that's why a you know $3 state can cost you 50 bucks in some places almost somebody else is paying for places like that just do you know research in aesthetics right so you see the idea this covers a lot of area wide range right what about the world residents when you hear the term Laurel what are you thinking of what's good and bad ways people are raised what did you say religion religion often lock a large part of religion consists of moral codes do you think of the Ten Commandments for example morality has to do with the right norms or what's good and bad and so we have taste over here let's just say right and wrong understand that too right and wrong or good in a full sense all right so if we say things like well apparently I was driving again today after I heard about this show that there recently that found that in North Carolina that there was some some goings-on with the crime labs and the prosecutors and some people have been sent to to prison account railroaded you know the evidence was doctors we want to say that that's wrong that's a moral judgment that's not a matter of taste we're not saying well they just didn't do it in an aesthetically pleasing way you know they did something wrong right and if we want to defend them and say no no what they did was okay they're putting away dangerous criminals you know they had evidence on that's also a moral judgment this isn't any time these say that somebody is a good person or a bad person and you're talking about their character you're making a moral judgement what else falls into those they're all no morals what's up yeah is it okay to spank your children that's a that's an issue that's a moral issue and the response to that could be one of the two different claims yes it is okay to spank your child moral judgment notices what's the opposite of a moral gentleman another moral judgment right what's the opposite of an aesthetic judgment another aesthetic judgment somebody might you know somebody might miss the point when you're asking about spanking and saying I think this banking isn't a good thing because I don't like the sound that the children make when they're being spanked you know that would be the static tantrum you might say well I think you've missed the point but there are people like that there are people who turn right and wrong into matters of taste and there are also people on the other end aren't there which are matters of taste they turn those into moral issues and we feel differently and we work differently with these these two things now in between is this this realm of what we call the practical and the practical has to do with getting things done or you might say with accomplishing our evidence so spanking is good somebody might might say that and what they mean is it's a useful technique for distance right they're not yet making a moral judgment we're saying before if you have this goal in mind then the spanking is something that you'd want to do let me give you an example that would work for all of these dealing with a certain topic like how we might say let's start with the moral thing do you think there's any moral claims you can make about housing you can't make moral claims they may not may not be ones you agree with you don't have to make claims of you agree with this class test on all sorts of things well that's probably a practical let's put that in there and maybe the assumption is because it's a good house well-constructed and you know what are your goals well your goals are to have a roof over your head and not be throwing your money away you know to build well that sort of thing that's a practical gentleman and when somebody says that to you you can't agree with never disagree with them then they can give reasons and you can give reasons right why do we have a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development that we send tax money to why do we have low-income housing what's the basic idea that that might be something practice so those poor people don't you know old and burn all the rest of our houses down that would just be practical right but I think there's something else behind that yeah so there's a broad thing of helping people and we're helping them in one particular way we're saying that maybe we say something like this everybody should have decent housing that's a moral claim isn't it I mean you could do it you could dispute that you could say yeah some people don't deserve a decent housing you know if somebody's a real scumbag maybe they should go out in the woods you know or live under the bridges whereas people who live under the bridges in jail right you can see the clothes and belongings laid out sometimes if you walk through the parks doesn't house aesthetically you could say you know here's here's a line by the way you go to somebody to place and you really don't have anything to say to them this is a useful line that you can say very generic is not gonna offend anybody now if you say the opposite well your house is awful you may have you may in fact arouse some some passions but if you say to somebody you have a lovely house I can be a really great way of getting out of an argument too by the way and he can change the subject they can ask them about where did you get this this looks fascinating this is aesthetic it has to do it you know taste what looks like a lovely house – you may not look like a lovely house to me we have different views of that sort of stuff some people I know like a very cluttered house probably know people like that they're always getting one more knick-knack to put it in you know the end of collections and things like that I hey that doesn't really bothered me that much drives my fiance nuts she would like a house with as little ornamentation as possible so she's very attracted for example to Japanese aesthetics where space is at a premium whether you're you know whether your house incorporates elements of nature some people can't stand nature other people love nature so these are these are aesthetic Doni judgments you could have all sorts you should buy this house instead of this house now is a good time to get that mortgage that's a practical value judgment as long as you're saying good should ought must in the sense of you know moral obligation you are dealing with a value judgment and you notice this it's on this whole gradation what's what's the gradation whether it's purely individual ultimately or whether it's something that if it's really true it holds for everybody know what your book talks about that's kind of interesting this respect is well read it says there are different varieties of value judgments because we evaluate things on different kinds of scales so rightfully we talked about that and then he says we need to deal with one common misconception regarding valuations many be getting critical thinking students make the mistake of thinking that people are free to accept whatever value judgment they please and that all value judgments are equally plausible and now actually notice he's making two claims there didn't make so he starts out saying we need to deal with one common misconception there's two different common misconceptions built in there so people are free to accept what other thing whatever value judgments say they want let's think about that when it comes to aesthetic value judgments is that true yeah if you know if you like coffee you can drink whatever kind of coffee you like you can say I like this kind of coffee I like Dunkin Donuts coffee no Starbucks is better you know green bean your local we no that one's better maybe you don't like coffee at all maybe like sugar in your coffee or milk in your coffee or I've seen people put you know honey in their coffee or anything like that that's that's purely matters of taste you know whether you like you know whatever genre of music you like I mean the one that I actually personally like the most and it's what I grew up with 1980s heavy metal I don't expect that any of you share that tastes I'm always surprised and I see students come in wearing you know t-shirts for ac/dc or Iron Maiden or things like that bands that we're producing they're their best work before before those students even were born you don't have to share that taste I don't need you to share that taste whatever it is that you like to listen to you know whether it's R&B country rap you know techno that's okay we can be then you can change it tomorrow and that's okay too matter of fact has college students probably you ought experiment now's the time to broaden your tastes you know you're not going to get that much of a chance to do it once you get in the world unless you work in the music world then you do get a chance what about practical best judgments what happens if you get those that's different than the static so let's say but we'll take the house right you should buy this house what did you get that was wrong what are some of the things that couldn't happen to you yeah maybe well you know a lot of people thought how this is the wrong time remember this talk about a housing bubble when you have a bubble what that is is people are buying some sort of product and then they're buying it basically so that with the expectation of selling it to somebody else and that person is buying it with the expectation of selling to somebody else they're not actually planning on using it yeah when they use the term flipping that's what they mean although usually it also means you're gonna put some working as well and sooner or later bubble zone is burst because sooner or later somebody actually looks at the Boomers and says wow that house is not worth half a million bucks I'm not buying it and then it starts to cascade through the entire system and that you know eventually values decline now if somebody was telling you you should buy a house right now at the middle of the bubble that was a bad practical judgment that one turned out to be erroneous so are you completely free to accept whatever practical judgments you want you're free but there are consequences you know you can if you want you can take contrary positions you know if you want if you hire a carpenter and you want to argue with your carpenter about the best way to do carpentry this is a practical concern you can do that if you want and your house is going to look like you know something like out of dr.seuss all the angles all along you could argue with your plumber if you want to or your mechanic now mechanics you got a watch though don't you cuz I was trying to add a few things in you know you're a pro broman it's gonna cost you to four hundred bucks there you you what do you do there you go and you get another practical judgment you get another second opinion medicine is about people always want to first argue with their doctors you need to exercise you know quit eating all that that fatty food yeah you know I know better your doctor has made a practical judgment and if you want to take a different practical judgment you're perfectly free to do so but reality may bite you see with aesthetics it's subjective isn't it reality is about to bite you I suppose it could in terms of what's right if you if you're do you think that somebody is very very attractive and then you marry them and then you're stuck with them and then they turns out they're not very attractive there's there's a great old song that I want to learn it's called a very unfortunate man and in it this guy brings this girl home and I was first she takes off her wig and then the first coat he was a very unfortunate very unfortunate very unfortunate man indeed you're like well that's not that fat a lot of women wear wigs then she takes under glass eye and she takes out her teeth then she takes off her false leg and it just goes through about 8 or 9 persons practical value judgments now we're getting into the stuff where there are experts there it's not just a matter of how you feel or anything comes to moral value judgments in one sense yet you are free to think whatever you like but there's no requirement that the rest of the world say that you're right or that it's ok for you to think so there are some people we had what we call personality disorders in Indian psychology sociology criminal justice okay so there's a document a big thick book called the DSM that's sort of the Bible of disorders they're changing the two-month dsm-5 is a huge controversy about them controversies about practical issues because they're taking out things like narcissistic personality disorder and they're not replacing it apparently encounter which is a problem because there's a lot of narcissists out there and we do want to diagnose them and somebody has something like sociopathic personality disorder they have some very very different moral judgments than the rest of the world does and they're wrong see it's possible to be right or wrong when it comes to moral judgments if you cannot provide any sort of backing for why you think things are right and wrong other than I feel there you're probably wrong if you when you think about it can't reason out why the things that you say one ought to do are good there's probably something wrong with your value system this isn't one of those things where everybody is free to accept whatever they want if you want to say that what other people do is wrong if you want to claim for example that the Nazis did it and killing six million Jews and then turning you know using their bodies for spare parts in a lot of cases if you want to say that that's wrong you have to be able to recognize that this is not a matter of feeling that is not just a matter of well I see it this way you see that what we can meaningfully disagree and we do as a matter of fact politics is all about this this and this that's the best way to get things done what should we be getting done a lot of people in elections mix it up with this I like the way he looks she sounds nice that's not a reason to vote for somebody Chrisman he asked voters you know other polls turns out welcome to make those sort of the decisions they have the best ideas for getting things done but what what to be done that's a matter moral judgments we should for example do you think that we want to make sure that affordable housing is available for everybody that's a moral judgment and you can defend that you may not have the the skills to be able to do it right at the drop of a hat right now but the guaranteed all of you actually have the aptitude to be able to defend your moral judgments and if you want to live in a good society you have to have people doing that when you know when Martin Luther King said that you know he was okay for him to break the law in this case what letter confirming a letter from a Birmingham jail is about because what the authorities were doing is wrong he was making a moral value judge if you want to say that he was a good guy you have to recognize that some people are right about moral judgments and other people are wrong and he gives you an example here in the board the other thing that he talks about is mixing these up and that's something that you do have to watch out for I think you know I mentioned that some people will treat moral judgments as if they're just matters of taste all right so that they'll tell you we mentioned this before when you're having dinner with people what shouldn't you talk about there's three topics usually yeah no the third one Barrett is depending on your family religion why not religion welcome religion has moral colors so if somebody is you know a practicing and faithful Hindu there are some things that they will not do that most Americans would have no problem with and there may be some obligations that they and they feel those to be moral obligations if somebody's a Muslim if somebody is a Christian so these are jus if somebody is convinced that that religion is the worst thing in the world that's a value judgment there are atheists who are sort of you know laid-back about it I just don't believe you know you believe what you want to know their 80s who are Crusaders right there I'll tell you a funny story about a guy when I was in graduate school I was working for the John Dewey Center John Bailey like it was made theists and I was doing research in the library they would assign me topics and I would go up in this target and a research and tracking things down so I've got the microfilm machine you know he gets on the level you turn the dials and things go past and there was an old guy standing next to me and he sneezed now we need to have somebody sneezes right oh you might say Gesundheit if you're from the Midwest because you know the German controls which means good health but yeah usually we say bless you and and am i invoking God in doing that am i you know making a theological statement not real it's more of a reflex reaction well this guy got hot he got really angry he got in my face so you got this like you know 70 year-old man look at that in my face yeah you know who are either blessed me I don't believe in your God and I don't want these blessings and he wanted for about you know a minute and I said you know first off it doesn't really matter what you believe or now somebody wants to loss you they can bless you you know that has nothing to do with herbal teas the second why would you know if you don't believe then I'm just saying blah blah blah right and if you do believe then wouldn't be a good thing for me to bless me he was somebody you know atheism had turned into something like a christening he was an engine of moral value judgments right strongly held very very strongly so yeah we're not supposed to talk about religion politics why not because politics again is about things where we can be right in the Roman it was just a matter of you know I remember when I was in kindergarten we had those weekly readers they still have those and back then it was this shows you how old I am it was President Ford versus Jimmy Carter and the class voted for Jimmy Carter and you know mind me voted for him no he didn't even read any of this stuff we just looked at their faces for look very old and tired and Jimmy Carter looked you know like a nice guy and all that so we're going about a purely aesthetic criteria no I prefer I heard something people in the recent you know the last presidential election you know that's not a reason to vote for anybody John McCain looks crazy that I think that could be a aesthetic judgment that might be a practical judgment to write you know worried about trains that have to give us somebody's ability to do the job but really if you're going for somebody and you're voting on the ground you're you're following out some moral value judgments where's the two other things so you're not supposed to talk about politics you're not supposed to talk about our religions and the other two or what sometimes it's money money is all about practical governments you can't be right or wrong about that and people you know when you point out to somebody that they're wrong how do they feel what's up offended yeah you know if they're really they really this because you're doing them a favor but they do get offended and that's a sex we have all sorts of feelings about sex right some of them could be purely aesthetic this person's attractive this person isn't a lot of them are moral the heart there this is right this is wrong you should do this you shouldn't do this even we have practical judgments if you want to have a successful relationship with your partner you should do this this and this that could be true there could be false you know if one of the things is if you want to have a successful relationship with your partner you should cheat every once in a while that's that's a bad practical judgment right now that one's probably wrong you know now notice you can make erroneous moral or practical value judgments whether it's you know whether an aesthetic value judgment can be erroneous or not probably not right because it's a matter of taste so there you just saying I like who's a so modest not she likes my smiles I like Iron Maiden Iron Maiden is better than that modest mouse yeah sure I think that that's missus anybody to them that's not incompatible with her thinking that Modest Mouse if that is an Iron Maiden I think that it's okay to put people in cages you think it's not right I'm wrong you're right moral value judgments some people are writing some people are wrong okay so that's where a little effort today I'll see all of you

18 thoughts on “Critical Thinking: Value Judgements”

  1. Morals, not right and wrong, but good and evil. Right and wrong are more properly describing accuracy. In this particular setting/context, a class on critical thinking, proper terminology is essential, not trivial.

  2. There's no moral relativism. Because if we relativize morality we can no longer know what is right or wrong; and then the society will colapse, surely.

  3. Wanting to be a good person is a value judgment in itself. How does one begin to argue for or against subjective claims using other subjective claims?

  4. I don't believe anything has value, it's all subjective, and even subjective values are baseless and can't be justified.

  5. Moral judgments can influence our aesthetic judgments though. Some Muslims for instance would not like songs in the premise that they are Haram.

  6. Is it valid to map moral judgments onto aesthetic judgments? Is it valid to map "right on wrong" onto "this looks pretty"?

  7. At the point where he mentions that some people hate nature it made me wonder whether or not there might be individual less cognizant animals that also hate nature. Because for me, I love nature, love to get out in it as much as possible; so to hate nature – in my eyes – seems, well, unnatural. But if there are humans who hate there own natural environment, perhaps there too are animals that do also.

  8. Thanks! These were actually my first foray into lecture capture. You can find Ethics, Intro, and now Existentialism course videos over on my personal channel

  9. Sure, of course facts presuppose matrices of value judgements — but this was a 100-level Critical Thinking class, where they're already quite fuzzy about even "facts", let alone the simplified range of value judgements we introduce them to here, so I kept it as simple as I could for them. In a more advanced class, or later in the semester, another story. . . .

  10. Facts presuppose value judgments! I think the fact/value dichotomy is a false dichotomy. Epistemic value judgments determine what we count as a "fact"…

  11. You're welcome, and I'm glad to hear that they can be helpful — even with another profs classes. My students make some contribution here — questions, energy, discussion. I'll be continuing to video these for the rest of the semester.

  12. Thanks for these lectures. I am taking critical thinking online and looked on here for some help. I have watched a number of these videos and find that they have really helped me as an addition to what my professor has given me.

  13. Thanks! I'll be talking them up with other professors, and maybe some of them will decide to produce some. I'll also be videoing a few guest lectures from other profs' classes — different topics than Critical Thinking

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