Intrinsic vs. Instrumental Value
A comparison of intrinsic value vs. instrumental value brings out the differences and similarities of these ideas. These values have been seen as contrasting ideas since the start of philosophical debates among philosophers.
Intrinsic value refers to a philosophic and ethical property. An intrinsic value is a philosophic and ethical value that is found in an object or for its sake. An object that has an intrinsic value can be considered as an end-in-itself or an end.
On the other hand, an instrumental value is an extrinsic value or a contributory value. It is a value that an object has both abstract object and physical object and it is not an end or end-in-itself but a means that it can use to achieve something else. Instrumental value is studied in value theory.
An intrinsic value is usually contrasted with instrumental value. In this regard, instrumental value is considered as the value that depends on the amount of intrinsic value that it generates. Happiness comprises of an intrinsic value for eudaemonists. On the other hand, a family might not comprise of an intrinsic value but it can be an instrumental value because it brings happiness.
In axiology, intrinsic value is employed in studying value or quality. Ethic good that has instrumental value can be considered as an ethic means without necessarily being the end itself. Thus, the major difference between instrumental value and intrinsic value is that an instrumental value is a means of achieving ethical decision while an intrinsic value is seen as a human nature.
These two makes a philosophic argument on whether a value is a means to an end or an end in itself. However, when put together the ideas fit well.
Theory of an instrumental value originates from the notion of an idea or object leading to another value indirectly or directly. For instance, if a person enjoys reading, the action of reading gives them pleasure. Thus, reading as an action leads to a value which is happiness.
Theory of an intrinsic value however, is based on the idea that certain values or beliefs are just what they are. For instance, happiness is intrinsic because it is a feeling or emotion. It is difficult to control what makes an individual happy but everybody agrees that it is a good emotion or feeling. Thus, an emotional value, happiness is the end. As such, an intrinsic value is a belief that leads a person into making a judgment about a situation.
While an instrumental value is easy to define and easy to identify, an intrinsic value is tricky in most cases. The notion that an intrinsic value is not explainable apart from agreeing that it is a value itself makes it difficult to define and identify.
Contrary to this, an instrumental value is simply an indirect or direct means via which intrinsic value can be observed. This is because an instrumental value is simply a means to the end and the intrinsic value is the end.
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