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Terminal Values and Instrumental Values

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❶But I don't complain too much about the mess. In our formalism, we've flattened out this possibility.

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When we object that people sometimes do sacrifice their lives, the philosopher's reply shifts to discussing Expected Utilities over Actions: But in English it all sounds the same. The choices of our simple decision system are those with highest Expected Utility, but this doesn't say anything whatsoever about where it steers the future.

It doesn't say anything about the utilities the decider assigns, or which real-world outcomes are likely to happen as a result. It doesn't say anything about the mind's function as an engine. To save your son's life, you must imagine the event of your son's life being saved, and this imagination is not the event itself.

It's a quotation, like the difference between "snow" and snow. But that doesn't mean that what's inside the quote marks must itself be a cognitive state. If you choose the action that leads to the future that you represent with "my son is still alive", then you have functioned as an engine to steer the future into a region where your son is still alive.

Not an engine that steers the future into a region where you represent the sentence "my son is still alive". To steer the future there , your utility function would have to return a high utility when fed ""my son is still alive"", the quotation of the quotation, your imagination of yourself imagining.

Recipes make poor cake when you grind them up and toss them in the batter. And that's why it's helpful to consider the simple decision systems first. Mix enough complications into the system, and formerly clear distinctions become harder to see. So now let's look at some complications. Clearly the Utility function mapping Outcomes onto Utilities is meant to formalize what I earlier referred to as "terminal values", values not contingent upon their consequences.

What about the case where saving your sister's life leads to Earth's destruction by a black hole? In our formalism, we've flattened out this possibility. Outcomes don't lead to Outcomes, only Actions lead to Outcomes. Your sister recovering from pneumonia followed by the Earth being devoured by a black hole would be flattened into a single "possible outcome".

And where are the "instrumental values" in this simple formalism? Actually, they've vanished entirely! You see, in this formalism, actions lead directly to outcomes with no intervening events. There's no notion of throwing a rock that flies through the air and knocks an apple off a branch so that it falls to the ground.

Throwing the rock is the Action, and it leads straight to the Outcome of the apple lying on the ground - according to the conditional probability function that turns an Action directly into a Probability distribution over Outcomes. In order to actually compute the conditional probability function, and in order to separately consider the utility of a sister's pneumonia and a black hole swallowing Earth, we would have to represent the network structure of causality - the way that events lead to other events.

And then the instrumental values would start coming back. If the causal network was sufficiently regular, you could find a state B that tended to lead to C regardless of how you achieved B.

Then if you wanted to achieve C for some reason, you could plan efficiently by first working out a B that led to C, and then an A that led to B. This would be the phenomenon of "instrumental value" - B would have "instrumental value" because it led to C. C itself might be terminally valued - a term in the utility function over the total outcome. Or C might just be an instrumental value, a node that was not directly valued by the utility function.

Instrumental value, in this formalism, is purely an aid to the efficient computation of plans. It can and should be discarded wherever this kind of regularity does not exist. Suppose, for example, that there's some particular value of B that doesn't lead to C. Would you choose an A which led to that B? Or never mind the abstract philosophy: If you wanted to go to the supermarket to get chocolate, and you wanted to drive to the supermarket, and you needed to get into your car, would you gain entry by ripping off the car door with a steam shovel?

Instrumental value is a "leaky abstraction", as we programmers say; you sometimes have to toss away the cached value and compute out the actual expected utility. Part of being efficient without being suicidal is noticing when convenient shortcuts break down. Though this formalism does give rise to instrumental values, it does so only where the requisite regularity exists, and strictly as a convenient shortcut in computation.

But if you complicate the formalism before you understand the simple version, then you may start thinking that instrumental values have some strange life of their own, even in a normative sense. That, once you say B is usually good because it leads to C, you've committed yourself to always try for B even in the absence of C.

People make this kind of mistake in abstract philosophy, even though they would never, in real life, rip open their car door with a steam shovel. You may start thinking that there's no way to develop a consequentialist that maximizes only inclusive genetic fitness , because it will starve unless you include an explicit terminal value for "eating food".

People make this mistake even though they would never stand around opening car doors all day long, for fear of being stuck outside their cars if they didn't have a terminal value for opening car doors. Instrumental values live in the network structure of the conditional probability function.

This makes instrumental value strictly dependent on beliefs-of-fact given a fixed utility function. If I believe that penicillin causes pneumonia, and that the absence of penicillin cures pneumonia, then my perceived instrumental value of penicillin will go from high to low. Change the beliefs of fact - change the conditional probability function that associates actions to believed consequences - and the instrumental values will change in unison. In moral arguments, some disputes are about instrumental consequences, and some disputes are about terminal values.

If your debating opponent says that banning guns will lead to lower crime, and you say that banning guns lead to higher crime, then you agree about a superior instrumental value crime is bad , but you disagree about which intermediate events lead to which consequences.

But I do not think an argument about female circumcision is really a factual argument about how to best achieve a shared value of treating women fairly or making them happy.

This important distinction often gets flushed down the toilet in angry arguments. People with factual disagreements and shared values, each decide that their debating opponents must be sociopaths. I fear the human brain does not strongly type the distinction between terminal moral beliefs and instrumental moral beliefs. Despite all the other ways that the human goal system complicates everything in sight, this one distinction it manages to collapse into a mishmash of things-with-conditional-value.

To extract out the terminal values we have to inspect this mishmash of valuable things, trying to figure out which ones are getting their value from somewhere else. It's a difficult project! If you say that you want to ban guns in order to reduce crime, it may take a moment to realize that "reducing crime" isn't a terminal value, it's a superior instrumental value with links to terminal values for human lives and human happinesses.

And then the one who advocates gun rights may have links to the superior instrumental value of "reducing crime" plus a link to a value for "freedom", which might be a terminal value unto them, or another instrumental value We can't print out our complete network of values derived from other values. They also questioned the validity of Rockeach's measures, suggesting that when people rank the values they may not even be ranking the same referents.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Nature of Human Values. Towards the Underlying Structure". Underlying structure and multidimensional scaling". Australian Journal of Psychology. Beliefs, attitudes, and values: A theory of organization and change. Journal of Social Psychology. Retrieved from " https: Views Read Edit View history.


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Instrumental values are ways of being that help us reach our terminal values. It is the terminal values that define the overall goal we want to achieve during our existence and the instrumental.

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Dec 07,  · Instrumental Values refer to preferable modes of behaviour and include values like honesty, sincerity, ambition, independence, obedience, imaginativeness, courageousness, competitiveness, and also some negative traits too. Organisations also have Instrumental Values (which can be ascertained from.

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Milton Rokeach that proposed a list including two sets of values, the terminal values and instrumental ones: Terminal Values refer to desirable end‐states of existence; the goals that a person would like to achieve during their . Instrumental and Terminal Values Worksheet Step 1: Read all the instrumental and terminal values listed in the boxes below. Step 2: Cross off the five least important instrumental and the five least important terminal.

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Essays - largest database of quality sample essays and research papers on Terminal And Instrumental Values. Rokeach Value Survey On the following pages are two lists of values; 18 terminal values and 18 instrumental values. Terminal values are “end result” values describing what you want to get out of life.