We are valuing beings, beings who possess the capacity to value things. We typically value many things: ideals (e.g., freedom), activities (e.g., doing philosophy), persons (e.g., our friends), states of affairs (e.g., world peace), and even material objects (e.g., works of art). But what is it ‘to value’ something? The most common accounts in the literature hold that to value an item is either to have a first-order or a second-order desire towards it; or to believe that item to be valuable; or to care about that item; or to have a combination of all these mental states. In our paper, we raise some objections against all these accounts and defend a new affective account of valuings. Unlike standard affective accounts, according to which the term ‘valuing’ refers to a single type of affective state, such as care, we hold that ‘valuing’ refers to the members of a class of affective states, namely, the class of sentiments. On our view, to value something is to have a particular sentiment towards it. Since sentiments can be of different types, our account implies that there are as many ways of valuing things as there are types of sentiments.
Presentation and Q&A in the “Normativity: Theoretical and Ethical Approaches” Colloquium.