Assessing human values

Bruce Buchanan (Intergovernmental Affairs, Ontario Ministry of Health (Retired), Canada)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 1 August 1997


Considers the light thrown on values by cybernetics, the systems science which deals with goal‐directed behaviour. Values function as criteria which govern goals at various levels of organization. Higher level values influence the relevance and availability of options for choice. Purposive systems are enabled by negative feedback to liberate outputs, to some degree, from random or contingent factors, so that relative constancy of action towards goals can be maintained over time. Such relative freedom is vital for life, but depends on an enabling organization. Such an account points to possibilities for a more objective account of the nature and role of human values, with implications for epistemology, ethics and the philosophy of mind. Also suggests that, in a politically free society, the structure of authority must be a function of the needs and goals of the individuals within it.



Buchanan, B. (1997), "Assessing human values", Kybernetes, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 703-715.

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Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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