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A value judgment is a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of something, based on a particular set of values or on a particular value system.

Value judgments are statements of subjectivity, which might be compared to axioms in mathematics and geometry—for instance, Euclidean geometry is founded upon a different set of axioms than various forms of non-Euclidean geometry, and thus postulates true in one geometry may be false in another geometry (or vice versa). Such postulates are in many ways analogous to value judgments that declare something to be right within one value system but wrong within another. Conceptually it is related both to the anthropological axiom "cultural relativity" (ie, that cultural meaning only exists in a context) and to the term "moral relativism".

For this reason the term can be used both in a positive sense, signifying a judgment that must be made taking a value system into account, or a disparaging sense, signifying a judgment made by personal whim rather than rational objective thought.

Value neutral is a related term, signifying that a matter is considered to be objectively so, and not dependent upon values or ethics. For example, a weapon might be considered value neutral in the sense that without humans and a context it is of itself neither good nor bad.

Bias in Value Judgments

The term is also employed, often in a disparaging sense, to imply that a statement is not objectively true - juxtaposing value judgments against objective statement of fact or a conclusion reached logically through rational analysis. In this sense, a value judgment is one formed by the specific values or value system held by the one asserting it. It can be argued that true objectivity is impossible, that even the most rigorous rational analysis is founded on the set of values accepted in the course of analysis. Consequently, some argue that all such statements and conclusions are necessarily value judgments. Others see the intention to abstain from judgment as a virtue (non-judgment).

Gilles Deleuze opposed immanent evaluation to such transcendent judgment.


See also

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