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A society's values are more important than the policy of that society's government.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/16/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 418 times Debate No: 98141
Debate Rounds (3)
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Values held by society, and policies implemented by that society's government, have interaction with each other... the values feed into the policies, and the policies' results, in turn, have an impact on peoples' values. Both are deserving of attention; the position here is not that policy should be ignored and values given all the attention.

However, between values and policy, values have a greater impact on the success of that society than does the selected policy of the government that is representing that society's interests.

"Value" or "values" in this thesis is intended to represent "a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life."
"Policies" or "policy" is "a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government"


Value " The regard to that something which is being held to deserve.
Policies " Prudent or expedient conduct or action.
Policy is the greater importance as it is addressing the Governing of the political body which forms Government. Many values can say the same things, different ways, at the same time. It is policy which characterizes and groups values, so we as a people do not waist significant amounts of time and money identifying redundant tasks.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for your engagement, John_C_1812. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. I hope we can have fun challenging each other's views, and increase our human connection between ourselves and others as we do.

I see that you proposed alternate definitions of values and policies; I agree to some extent that actions matter, but even if using exclusively your terms, in my opinion having a measure of worth first will, longer-term and more-robustly, lead to superior actions, and therefore superior outcomes, than simply having good conduct first.

However, I mentioned my specific definitions, regarding principles and standards, and government actions, because I find that most political debate and partisan disagreement is, in my estimation, just people with broadly-shared values, arguing over policies as if those values are not shared, while being blind to the recognition that since many values are shared, we should be able to move forward easily once we recognize that and work together on policies that agree. While there is real worth in your perspective on terms, I don't believe that it has the problem-solving power of the view that I am proposing.

Values are Consistently Leading Indicators of Other Positives
In study after study in the analysis and pursuit of excellence, the results are consistent: Societies that value things, are good at those things.

In a 2013 research paper on education, it was found that countries with vastly different policies could produce broadly globally high-performing students, but there was something those countries had in common: A particular type of value for education, and support of teachers. Even while being careful to rule out cofactors or reverse-causality (which is fairly common in this type of situation--as I said, values feeds policy, which leads to altered values in return), the conclusions were reliable. [1]

Far superior in extreme / "breakdown" scenarios
There's also the importance of values in situations when due to a disaster or other unexpected misfortune, infrastructure breaks down or the government is incapable of stepping in. In societies where cooperation is highly valued, we see consistently that outcomes are more-cooperative in such scenarios.

Consider two different flooding scenarios in nearly the same area in Louisiana: With similar population demographics, and near-identical policies, in a similar situation, there were two different outcomes: in a rural area, where the culture is slightly more prone to charity, cooperation, and "do-it-yourself", flood survivors were found banding together to help one another. But in a very similar scenario in a nearby city, there were some stories of survivors banding together, but also situations slightly different cultural values led to vastly different outcomes: riots, looting, and anarchic chaos.

Less corruption, more cooperation
The simple approach to problem solving is, "if only we had a policy to address that problem, it would be better." But when there are policies in place, but not widespread belief in or agreement with the values that support the policy, policies get skirted. A good example is tax law: It's widely understood, from the most ordinary low-level earner to the biggest mega-corporation, that being "good" at taxes, is paying as little as possible. So when it's time to pay taxes... people and businesses find aggressive loopholes. In a society that strongly felt the value from their portion of taxes was meaningful, tax evasion would be greatly reduced. Values, not policy, are again the key.

Thought exercise: Values with no corresponding policy vs. policy with no corresponding values
And to help understand which should be more strongly preferred, let us consider a couple of imaginary alternate-dimensions of our world: In one, the government's policies are heavily faulty and ineffectual, but the members of society--workers, business leaders, and elected officials--share a common collection of heartfelt values that are in accord with a great society. And in the second, government policy is flawless; a well-oiled machine, effectively and efficiently addressing everything that we perceive as important, but the society that lives in that government, has values counter to the good things those policies are trying to implement. Which would be a better place to live, just right now, in "normal" today? Which would be better in time of disaster? Which will be better 100 years from now?

The one with values, even in the absence of good policy, would have a difficult contest against the good-policy but no-values one in the first "just right now" test. An efficient, effective that "handles everything in a perfect way" ... but would that really be so much better? In such a society, those good policies are going to be funded by taxes from people who resent being forced to support them. There will be cheating, backstabbing and undermining at every turn, trying to prevent the good thing from happening. If the policies are still "perfect" and efficiently evading these backstabs and underminings, then it is almost certainly doing so with a Byzantine collection of bureaucratic gotchas, inspectors and auditors -- thoroughly efficient, but widely resented by the populace. This would be a benevolent authoritarian state!

But on the other hand, The virtue-in-spite-of-bad-policy would have an effect on the other world as well. Even without good policy to implement education, care for the poor, etc, a society in which everyone--including the wealthy and powerful--does value such things, it is inevitable and nearly instant that those needs would be willingly, eagerly, joyously identified and addressed. Rather than a "benevolent totalitarianism", the no-policy society would be have a "black market of goodness" where good things happened in spite of poor policy, because when people have good values, we want to do good things.

Easier to impact Right Now
Elected officials change every couple of years, but to actually get elected, takes much longer than that. (Step 1: become famous and/or a millionaire...). Or if you just want to go the policy change route, again... it takes longer than that; you have to build an organization, to start lobbying, and to sponsor and promote candidates who get closer to your policy. It's a big task, and it's not cheap. As a result, most people who care, and want policy to change, end up doing very little (or nothing) to promote that.

On the other hand, a simple conversation is all it takes to move the needle on the values that we share. Holding a value and living it in your life, praising peers when you see it on display for them, having thoughtful discourse on those values ... there are so many natural things that we all do every day, that have a small, but real influence, every day, to shape the values of the society we live in. While policy may trail by decades, or may never end up changing at all, we still have the ability to impact society's values by living and promoting what we value--and if they are really our values, we do that anyway!

Policy is good, but values ultimately mean more to society. They're shown statistically to have impactful outcomes. They are more robust when things break down. They lead to reduced corruption and increased cooperation. And if you had to pick only one, the clear choice would be values. Let's see what we can do to make good values happen, and to spread the good ones that we have!

1: Wursten, Huib, and Carel Jacobs. "The impact of culture on education." The Hofstede Centre, Itim International (2013).


You are welcome "Thoguth", we as people debate to understand if our idea deserves to be governed by others or ourselves. Basically do we agree or disagree with ongoing events, which idea might be better at saying what may need, heard by others, and placed in some kind of order. We always hope, dream, and think for as people we all can know what is wrong by simply seeing it.

Political Policies are nothing more than governed moral value. Meaning policies when well written and Constitutional are simply much more efficient to keep regulated then any moral value.

My argument is to make it easy for read to see why they should voter policy of morality. Or as you put it value. The need to explain can be summed up much faster with self-evident truth.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks again for your response, John. I appreciate your thoughts here.

Policies are not merely "governed moral value," any more than an engineered object is "governed design goals." At its best, the engineered object works to perform its design goals well, but sometimes the engineering is bad. Sometimes a car that is designed to be safe, in practice is still dangerous. Sometimes a car that is supposed to be reliable, turns out not to be reliable.

It can be seen likewise in policy: A society might value something, and in an effort to promote what they value, institute a policy that instead detracts from it. For instance, a society could value education highly, but in order to promote that valued ideal, they could put many resources into a schooling system that uses dangerously poor teaching methods. In the name of promoting the thing they value, they could build something which, rather than increasing and improving it, actually had the effect of suppressing the love of thinking and knowledge in the students who went through it. In the name of promoting a value, a policy could actually not just not promote it, but actually be at odds with the value at hand.

There is nothing wrong with having or pursuing good policy--Every society should naturally be eager to do so! But when we're looking at problems in society that appear to stem from lack of certain values... if the society doesn't have those values, that needs to be fixed first. Simply trying to enact (what would be unpopular) policy without first addressing the values, would be a near-hopeless situation.

In conclusion: If we wish to participate in the best societies we can, it's wise to be aware of the difference between policy and values. When we are aligned on good values, the conversation is easy: which policy works best? But when the society in general does not share the same values, it's common to try to pursue policies without being aware of the values that must underlie them. And even in the most desperate of political turmoil, we can look at others, find allies in values (even if we are distant in policy) and work together in shared respect to spread our values to others. And even if we cannot find immediate allies, we have something to do! By influencing others toward we have a way to "move the needle" in the right direction, even if the movement is very small. And ultimately, a value change can make a huge difference, because a society's values are more important than the policy of that society's government.


Moral Value is a public liberty. Principle is a civil order and civil order is always more beneficial to society than civil moral value. This is because it describes a governed standard. A precedent is War, the act of War only occurs with the removal of principle, and it is replaced with moral value. The Value is wrong, but is addressing the justification for vengeance which is still a principle by your explanation above. Both education and War share a biased value of a separation process, driven by intelligence.
Principles are motivated often outside human control and are basically displaced. The piece of metal it the fire is hot. Principle. (A person cannot keep the metal in the fire from trying equalizing in temperature) Vs. A piece of metal in the fire is hot when grabbed it can burn. Value.
The principle here has more importance than the value of not getting burned. It take a great deal more energy to keep metal cool in a fire that it does not to touch the hot piece of metal in the fire. Going one step farther it is the principle of discoloration whit tells us not to touch the metal near or in the warm ashes either.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by CosmoJarvis 1 year ago
your face is a value
Posted by Yozavad 1 year ago
I'll be keeping an eye on it Willy wonka.
Posted by Thoguth 1 year ago
This is my first attempt at a debate here. Looks interesting, and maybe addictive. Or maybe sucks.... we'll see :)
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