The Hierarchy of Value An Axiological Exploration Somik Raha Doctoral Candidate Stanford University Feb 19, 2008
What do social ventures care about?
Without Ethnography: Public Safety
With Ethnography: Public Safety and Education
How much do they care?
Propose Hierarchy of Value from Formal Axiology
Before assigning dollar values, I want to figure out what I care about
Come up with a framing tool that helps me understand how much I value something before assigning dollar amounts
The origin of value
Comes from a sense of “good”
Definition of Good
Something is good when it fulfills the definition of its concept.
Good = concept fulfillment
Three types of concepts
Synthetic, Abstract and Singular
Fulfillment of synthetic concepts generates systemic value. e.g. regulatory fulfillment
Fulfillment of abstract concepts generates extrinsic value. e.g. good chair, car, etc.
Fulfillment of singular concepts generates intrinsic value. e.g. unique chair, car, etc.
I want a round table
Roundness of an actual table gives me systemic value, but is not enough.
The fact that the table has all the properties of the concept “table” makes it a good table, and provides extrinsic value
Suppose I find out that this round table once belonged to Kennedy. It is now a unique round table that is worth much more than a regular round table.
Good “Campus Bike Safety”
I want compliance of bike safety laws – there is systemic value in the enforcement of such laws.
I want people to be good bike riders. They are good bike riders when they fulfill the definition of a good bike rider in my mind- one of the properties is one who rides safely. Fulfilling this definition gives extrinsic value.
Finally, I want bike riders to appreciate bike safety so much that they would be willing to educate their family and friends to ride safely. This gives intrinsic value.
In a sense, systemic values are a detector for extrinsic values
Extrinsic values are a detector for intrinsic values
Actions and value
Are my actions leading to more systemic value?
Are my actions leading to more extrinsic value?
Are my actions leading to more intrinsic value?
How would I know?
Systemic value is easy to observe
Extrinsic value is harder – patrols, people looking out for risky bike behavior, etc.
Intrinsic value is hardest to observe – ask those who finish a bike safety class if anyone wants to teach/organize bike safety classes in their dorms
Moving to dollar valuations
Dollar values have to be assigned keeping in mind all three levels of value
What am I willing to pay to receive only systemic value? (Recording Violations)
What am I willing to pay to receive systemic and extrinsic value? (Observing bike behavior, Vaden activity – no violations but people are injured)
What am I willing to pay to receive all three levels of value? (Conducting once-a-month class on bike safety)
Other Social Ventures
Good “AIDS Education”
A measurable drop in those who get AIDS. A measurable drop in misunderstanding levels of how one gets AIDS.
People are taking safety measures to protect themselves from AIDS.
Developing compassion about those who have AIDS, and helping educate friends and colleagues.