The Universe from an Intentional Stance

A Non-Comprehensive List of Human Values

Human values are said to be complex (cf. Stewart-Williams 2015, section “Morality Is a Mess”; Muehlhauser and Helm 2012, ch. 3, 4, 5.3). As evidence, the following is a non-comprehensive list of things that many people care about:

Abundance, art, asceticism, autarky, authority, autonomy, beauty, benevolence, challenge, community, competence, competitiveness, complexity, cooperation, creativity, crime, critical thinking, curiosity, democracy, dignity, diligence, diversity, duties, emotion, equality, excellence, excitement, experience, fairness, faithfulness, family, free will, freedom, friendship, frugality, fulfillment, fun, gender differences, gender equality, happiness, health, honesty, humbleness, idealism, improvement, intelligence, justice, knowledge, law abidance, life, love, loyalty, modesty, nature, novelty, openness, optimism, organization, pain, parsimony, peace, privacy, progress, promises, prosperity, purity, rationality, religion, respect, rights, sadness, safety, sanctity, self-determination, simplicity, sincerity, society, spirituality, stability, striving, suffering, surprise, technology, tolerance, tradition, variety, veracity, welfare, truth.

Note that from the inside, most of these values feel distinct from each other. Also, note that most of these do not feel instrumental to each other. For instance, people often want to find out the truth even when that truth is not useful for, e.g., reducing suffering or preserving tradition.

Some (articles with) lists that helped me to compile this list are Keith‑Spiegel’s moral characteristics list, moral foundations theory, Your Dictionary’s Examples of Morals, Eliezer Yudkowsky’s 31 laws of fun, table A1 in Bain et al.’s Collective Futures and Peter Levine’s an alternative to Moral Foundations Theory.