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Axiology (from Greek ἀξίᾱ, axiā, "value, worth"; and -λόγος, -logos) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics[1]—philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of value—or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902,[2] and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908.[3][4]

Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's Science of Value. Studies of both kinds are found in Cultura: International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology.


Between the 5th and 6th century B.C., it was important in Greece to be knowledgeable if you were to be successful. Philosophers began to recognize that differences existed between the laws and morality of society. Socrates held the belief that knowledge had a vital connection to virtue, making morality and democracy closely intertwined. Socrates' student, Plato furthered the belief by establishing virtues which should be followed by all. With the fall of the government, values became individual, causing skeptic schools of thought to flourish, ultimately shaping a pagan philosophy that is thought to have influenced and shaped Christianity. During these medieval times, Aquinas argued for a separation between natural and religious virtues. This concept led philosophers to distinguish between judgments based on fact and judgments based on values, creating division between science and philosophy.[5]

Axiological issues in communication studies[edit]

Communication theorists seek to contribute to mutual intelligence about the anatomy and operation of human communication. The axiological issues that are significant for the evolution of communication theory are whether research can be truly free of value and whether the end for the administered research should be designed to expand knowledge or to change society. For communication theorists, a primary interest is with the philosophical establishment of the research approach. A continuing value debate occurs between scholars who comply with a conventional scientific approach and those who take an interpretivist approach to communication development.[6]

Those who take a conventional scientific approach believe that research must be free of values in order to be valid. Therefore, it is necessary for the scientist to approach their research in a neutral and objective manner. In contrast, the interpretivists argue that it is impossible for research to be completely free of personal values, as research is always biased towards the values of the researcher. According to interpretivists, these biases are sometimes so entrenched in the researcher's culture that they will most likely go unnoticed during research. Since no one can truly be unbiased, some groups are more knowledgeable about certain things than other groups due to their positions in society, and they can be considered more qualified to perform research on certain topics as a result.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary Entry on Axiology.
  2. ^ Lapie, Paul (1902). Logique de la volonté. Paris: F. Alcan. 
  3. ^ von Hartmann, Eduard (1908). Grundriss der Axiologie. Hermann Haacke. 
  4. ^ Samuel L. Hart. Axiology—Theory of Values. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  5. ^ Arneson, P. (2009). Axiology. In S. Littlejohn, & K. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory. (pp. 70-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  6. ^ Arneson, P. (2009). Axiology. In S. Littlejohn, & K. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory. (pp. 70-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  7. ^ Arneson, P. (2009). Axiology. In S. Littlejohn, & K. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory. (pp. 70-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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