Values & Actions

‘But the void in our society has been produced by the absence of values. And values are not established by asserting issues. Victory over one issue or another is wonderfully orgasmic and quickly slips away. The constant base needed to supply values is the result of methodical participation. The individual gains his powers and responsibilities by being there. But we have no widespread belief in the value of participation. The rational system has made us fear standing out in any serious way. Participation produces, but is also the product of, practical values and common sense, not expertise and reason.’ John Ralston Saul, 1993, [1992], p.584.


An important distinction can be made between concept/word pair: values-actions:

Definition for values [5D: life value science]

And actions [5D: physical, public science].

Scientific enquiry into values-actions follows-generates multiple investigations via specialisms, methods and data sources. Industries such as big data, digital vision, semantic search, learning, decisions, etc.

In communication ethics [5D: ethics, logic, reason], the lack of value-action analysis seeds some 'wicked problems'.

Values are always subjective

Each animal-analogue — human being, or citizen with rights — create 'meaning' or metaphysical connection that links individual- collective experience.

Individually and collectively we assign values 24/7, even when we dream!

We select from experience, consciously/unconsciously for a life-time each.

Actions are consciously apprehended or selected events  identified by sensory stimulus of mass-self experience [5D: bio, mammal, species, human world culture, digital construct].

The 'action' of communication [5D:]permits description of an 'always on valuation' experience, of one's own body and the world.

Multiple and composite values often in dialectical arrangement — media/political, good/bad, legal/illegal, public/private, etc are important to investigate within communication ethics.

Even a simple action like cutting your hair, or eating breakfast is full of values. How do you want to look? What should I eat? Where does my food come from? When should I eat and where?

This capacity for discernment and judgement using values is extraordinary, when you consider it.The social networks do, as regulators wake up and citizens demand rights and inclusion in the wealth generated by their data.

Every moment our lives are assessed continuously by us — and in collective modes from family outwards —

Why is this important?

If your descriptive experience of values and valuing is what makes you human, even where you can discern these values or not, then considering your values and the values of others is an important subject?

And in communication with others, where these values are so central to understanding each other, for example in making agreement, or finding disagreement, values are an essential mechanism for social interpretation?

Values are primary — yours/mine — and always subjective.

We value from distinctive language, framing and biases.

Across science, a great effort is spent on limiting natural human bias and 'subject' values. While, as the physicists have discovered, when looking at the world in detail as they do, these biases persist.

Even to the point of affecting the outcome of their hugely valuable experiments. Yes, they compensate and modify to find their answers, yet look at the scale of their challenge and the investment in making a singular reasonable statement about reality.

Now look at the scale of the everyday human challenge to make sense of each of our individual worlds. Then to identify common agreement or to recognise the parameters of a shared dynamic reality?

Meanwhile actions are the actual events of which life is formed. Eating food, sitting at table, going to the barber or hairdresser.

You can see an action or event, an experiment in science, while the interpretations in your head – valuing insights – are not actions.

Interpretation of actions is value. Values are both private and public.


These values are the subject of communication ethics.

What distinguishes each of us from our nearest and dearest and in wider cultural forms, what creates the differences between you and others.

Values are what people's view of the world is comprised of. It's often harder to change an entrenched value than modify an action.

We sense actions and we recognise values in actions, while it is the quality of this discernment that changes the trajectory of our lives.

Perhaps, with age and experience comes the beautiful realisation of the complexity and quality of human discernment using values?

Although, in youth, new values emerge and these can become a source of hope, inspiration and change.

In a global age, with massive risks emerging, every citizen must locate and discern their own values and the values of others, to assure a better, less threatened future. 

We should all ask, are  'old values' that underpin the actions of violence, greed and fear, distorting the possibilities for action towards a better future?

Or perhaps the values of a new age, of hope, abundance and wonder can really identify what actions need to change and how human beings can agree a better future, together?

Action through comprehension of our values is the only way forward, or risk a world deformed by valueless action.