Values Free

What does that mean to you?

I use it in class when we are talking about each other and our families.  It’s much easier to talk about ourselves when we do so from a values free perspective – talking about ourselves without attributing a good or bad value – especially when it comes to our families and our stuff.

Learning how to think of ourselves from such a perspective allows us to have values free conversations about the things that are going on in our lives.  Typically, if someone asks you to think through your stuff, we attribute a good or bad to our stuff – typically, we will think of all the bad things.  Thinking through our stuff values free helps us to process things through further.

Just a thought.

5 thoughts on “Values Free

  1. Hi Lem,
    The exercise was a great one but the term ‘values free’ is problematic for me.
    I have been musing over this for my research design chapter. Personally I don’t accept the argument that one can be values free. We may be choose to take a values silent position but is impossible to be values free.
    If, for example, someone argues that their position is values free, they are in fact using a values laden statement to argue for a values free position. In other words, a values-laden assertion that it is ‘of value’ to be ‘values free’ has been employed.
    This might be a deeper question than the one you posed, but nevertheless, axiology (our way of determining value) together with our epistemology (our way of thinking) and our ontology (our way of being) underscore our worldviews and are usually behind the conflicts in our world.

    1. Well done – values silent sounds way better. You’re right ‘values free’ is impossible. I should have stated it clearer.
      It has helped me in my classes and with my students to try and think of our development in terms of what is or what has been as opposed to your family being bad and mine being good.
      It’s great insight Heather. We’ll be value silent – well, value something. Thanks for the comment.

    2. I reread your comment and you’re right it is much deeper than I had posed. I agree that our axiology, epistemology, and our ontology underscore our worldviews and are usually behind the conflicts of our world – but in light of our development – there are many things that we cannot choose. We don’t choose what family we are born into or whether we are first or the last to be born. Most of us are not responsible for why our parents divorced (mine are still together), but my point that I should have been clearer on is that there are many things about who we are that we cannot help and are not in control of. I guess I should have been a bit more specific, but those are the types of things about who we are that we can attribute value to (i hate that i was the youngest or i loved that my parents decided to move to hawaii when I was 5 – stuff like that).

      You’re right though that a completely values-free position is values-laden. How would you describe talking about our development in such a way that we don’t attribute good or bad to it?

  2. Hi Lem
    I think the thing to remember about our worldviews is that they are the way we see the world and it is not really a choice or something we can dramatically change. Our foundation values rarely change. Yet people generally do not reflect on what makes them tick, it takes a stressful event (or doing a PhD!) before people look inwards and try to make sense of who and why they are what they are. Once we know who we are, the next logical step is to realise that others will not necessarily see the world as we do and that diversity is ok. If we didn’t attribute the values of good or bad to others understandings but rather see them simply as ‘different’ to our own that would certainly be a good start.

    In relation to the exercise you are conducting in your class, which I think it is a very important yet difficult one, perhaps the whole question of why we might assign the values of good or bad to situations that just ‘are’ might make for some interesting conversation. As you say, we have no control of where we come in our family, or whether our parents are divorced, etc. that’s just the way it is. It is usually our value judgments based on our own experiences or wider societal values that ascribe a good or bad label to them.

    This is probably going way off the topic for your class, but if you’re interested you might like to read a paper I co-wrote called The V-Factor: thinking about values as the epicentre of leadership, learning and life at

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