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Values Research Group

  1. Members
  2. Values: topic overview
  3. Activities

Director: Dr Alex Barber
Deputy Director: Professor Sophie-Grace Chappell

The Values Research Group is housed within the Open University’s Philosophy Department.

The group acts as a hub and network for philosophical research on values, on ethics, and on associated topics in social and political philosophy. It exists to promote research on these topics at the Open University, mainly by hosting talks, collaborative events, etc.

The links on the left give information on the topic of values and on the group’s activities and membership.

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Alex Barber

Sophie-Grace Chappell

Sean Cordell

Jon Pike

Christopher Yorke

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Values: topic overview

Questions and assumptions about valuing and values pervade all aspects of human existence. Every act, in so far as it is done for a reason, expresses some aspect of the agent’s values at the time. To reflect on values (happiness, beauty, health, material prosperity, friendship, knowledge, honesty, etc.) is therefore also to reflect on the difference between living well and living badly.

The topic of values is intimately tied to social, moral and political philosophy - the branches of philosophy that deal with what we ought to do and in particular how we ought to behave towards and amongst others.

Questions the Values Research Group exists to address include:

The nature and status of values

What are values and how do they differ from personal preferences, say, or socially approved practices? Is there a difference between something’s having value and its being valued by someone?

Discriminating between values

How can we be justified in adopting one set of values over some other (e.g. honesty over well-intentioned duplicity)? Where will the evidence for such a choice come from? Is talk of ‘evidence’ here misplaced?

Acting on values

How do values motivate us to act? How come we sometimes fail to act on what we say we value?

Values in society

Left to their own devices, different people assign value to different acts, objects and situations. What challenges does this throw up for how we live together, and how can those challenges be met?

Particular values

Much of the group’s work centres on understanding specific values such as well-being, tradition, loyalty, grace, faith, honesty, friendship, etc.

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Research Seminars

A number of the Departmental Research Seminars hosted each year by the Philosophy Department are organized by the Values Research Group. The Philosophy Department's blog also has up to date information on events in this and related categories.

Individual research

Much of the research we do is conducted individually, with support and advice from others in the group and beyond. This includes Jon Pike’s work on the ethics of sport, for example, and Sophie-Grace Chappell’s work on grace and transformational experiences. The membership link in the side-panel will direct you to more projects in this category, and the Philosophy Department's blog has up to date information on associated events.

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