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Value

You sometimes hear me stumble over the word 'value', the way I did in a recent interview. Let me explain why.

The word 'value' is widely used in our field and elsewhere. It is intended to represent a measurement of the 'benefit' something might produce - so 'economic value' might refer to the economic benefit., 'social value' might refer to the social benefit', and so on.

I often want to say things like this: each person has value in and of themselves. Or: each person has inherent value. It's an easy shorthand, and people quickly understand what I mean. Nobody is worthless. And nobody is worth so much so as to render other people essentially worthless.

In the interview the other day I rephrased this shorthand to refer back to Kant, who says (paraphrased) "each person is an end in and of themselves, and not a means to some end." That's also a pretty easy shorthand, and suggests that it is wrong to use people to further your…

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