Encyclopedia of World Problems

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title:Type codes

To help users understand how the world problems are distinguished in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, codes have been appended to the problem names on the index pages (and at the end of each profile). These codes correspond to the type sections into which the problem profiles have been tentatively clustered in the Encyclopedia. They are designed to distinguish the more general and fundamental problems from those which are more specific or detailed. More detailed comments on each type are given by following the hyperlinks:


title:Reservations and disclaimer

These profiles endeavour to distinguish between "positive" and "negative" human values. It is important to recognize that this may be extremely misleading, since "constructive" values may be perceived as "destructive" under certain circumstances, and vice versa. The purpose of this list is to raise questions about the circumstances under which particular values may be seen as constructive or destructive. It is for the reader to exercise discrimination in determining under what circumstances particular approaches may be considered as "positive" or "negative" in their implications.


title:Entry content and organization

Ordering of entries

Entries are numbered in alphabetic order. Entry numbers have no significance other than as a permanent point of reference to facilitate indexing, cross-referencing, and updating between editions. Entries for the Value Polarities are in numeric order. Entry numbers are based on an adaptation of the numeric ordering of concepts in Roget's Thesaurus. They serve primarily as a permanent point of reference to facilitate indexing, cross-referencing, and updating between editions.

Index access to entries


title: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.



The debate on social policy at the local, national or world level makes many references to concepts such as equality, justice and liberty. These are abstract concepts of great ambiguity and imprecision. However, in attempting to formulate social policy for the future, values must be fed into the decision- making process. Therefore, the utility of any such policy depends on an understanding of the complex and shifting architecture of values that regulates human behaviour.


title:Project summary

The importance of values is frequently cited in relation to the global problematique, whether it be in debates in international assemblies, in studies criticizing "value-free" approaches to research, or in discussion of quality of life and individual fulfilment. Values are deemed especially important in questions of cultural development and are central to concern for the preservation of cultural heritage.

title:12.12 Magic, miracles and image-building

Such are the dimensions of the crises faced by humanity and the planet that it is not uncommon to hear that "a miracle is required". Indeed, faced with the demonstrated incompetence and impotence of political leaders and their academic advisors, miracles seem just as likely to offer a way forward as conventional policy-making. At the same time, occasionally people experience gatherings which seem to offer hope because of the "magical" way they work --without it being possible to identify how this happened. As a result some would say that "we need more magic".



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