Value theory encompasses a range of approaches to understanding how, why and to what degree people value things; whether the thing is a person, idea, object, or anything else. This investigation began in ancient philosophy, where it is called axiology or ethics. Early philosophical investigations sought to understand good and evil and the concept of "the good". Today much of value theory is scientifically empirical, recording what people do value and attempting to understand why they value it in the context of psychology, sociology, and economics.
At the general level, there is a difference between moral and natural goods. Moral goods are those that have to do with the conduct of persons, usually leading to praise or blame. Natural goods, on the other hand, have to do with objects, not persons. For example, to say that "Mary is a morally good person" might involve a different sense of "good" than the one used in the sentence "Wow, that was some good food".
Ethics tend to be focused on moral goods rather than natural goods, while economics tends to be interested in the opposite. However, both moral and natural goods are equally relevant to goodness and value theory, which is more general in scope.
Famous quotes containing the word theory:
“By the mud-sill theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a tread-mill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should beall the better for being blind, that he could not tread out of place, or kick understandingly.... Free labor insists on universal education.”
—Abraham Lincoln (18091865)