Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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Content and technical issues


There are no official lists of approaches to human values. The human values profiled here are derived from an experimental systematic exploration of the value-charged words in Roget's Thesaurus as explained in the index to notes and commentary. It is recognized that this necessarily reflects a particular methodological bias towards values articulated in English, and within English-speaking cultures. This was done to develop a database framework with which other values could be associated.


Human values may have a variety of names, especially through the manner in which they are translated between different languages and spiritual traditions. The alphabetic index list, based on a single name per value, is therefore an essentially arbitrary ordering of the items in the database. As a random presentation of the contents of the database, it has the advantage of drawing attention to the variety of values to which indivuals and groups may attach importance.


Values whose profiles have been described in the Encyclopedia have been clustered into 'type' sections with different codes. These include "constructive" values; "destructive" values; type "P" or value polarities (used for 225 value polarities identified from Roget's Thesaurus, and cross-reference synonymous "constructive" or "destructive" value words of Type C and Type D respectively). For more detailed information, see Human Development Project: Type Codes.


Rather than attempting to reproduce descriptive texts on each value polarity, the value profiles include selected proverbs, aphorisms and quotations. This highlights the significance of each value dimension in a succinct manner, linking it both to cultural lore and to the insights of those to whom wisdom is attributed in contemporary society. This material has been deliberately selected to highlight the dynamic relationship between values guiding constructive and destructive action. This description of the value is followed by hierarchical cross-references, namely broader values (more general values of which the value described may be considered a part) and narrower values (more specific values which may be considered a part of the described value). There are also cross-references to other database sections within the research area of the Encyclopedia including Global Strategies and Solutions and Human Potential and Development. Cross-references also extend to other databases and information deriving from the separate research areas of Bibliography relating to the Encyclopedia and International Organizations. For a more detailed overview of the problem profiles, see Entry Content and Organization.