Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology | The Primary Axiom of Life Value and the Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision by Prof John McMurtry

Professor John McMurtry

“I endorse, outline and apply John McMurtry’s life-value onto-axiology, which is in all probability the most articulate theory of value developed by any philosopher in the 21st century.”

— Martin Gren, ‎Edward H. Huijbens – 2015 – ‎Business & Economics

Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology

The Primary Axiom of Life Value

and the

Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision

The Primary Axiom of Value is the logical core of the volumes ‘What is Good? What is Bad? The Value of All Values across Time, Place and Theories’ by John McMurtry, Philosophy and World Problems, Volume I, UNESCO in partnership with Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems: Oxford, 2004-11. The Primary Axiom is the first principle of Life-Value Onto-Axiologythe inner logic of ‘the Real’, ‘the True’, and ‘the Good’ across time and place. Their realisation is always dependent, in turn, on accessible Universal Human Life Necessities which are defined below as constituting the sole and complete objective of any Life-Coherent Economy. Underlying all are the ultimate steps of the universal logic of all true value on Earth spelled out rigorously and subject to personal, social and planetary test as:

The Primary Axiom of All Value:

X is value if and only if, and to the extent that, x consists in or enables a more coherently inclusive range of thought/feeling/action than without it.

Converselyx is disvalue if and only if, and to the extent that, x reduces/disables/destroys any range of thought/experience/action.

Definitions of the three ultimate fields of value:

  • thought = internal image and concept (T)
  • felt side of being = senses, desires, emotions, moods (F);
  • action = animate movement across species and organizations (A)

governed by

  • the good will T/F/A as one to realise the Primary Axiom
  • the true = progressive consistency with the P-Axiom, or the life coherence principle

Symbolically expressed:

+V= > LR + and −V = < LR where L = Range of TFA and / = and/or.

The unlimited validity of the P-Axiom across time, place and domains is shown by its:

(1) self-evidence insofar as its denial is nonsensical;

(2) universality across all domains and issues of value judgment insofar as there is no domain of value to which it does not apply;

(3) presupposition in value judgments and conflicts across domains;

(4) objectivity insofar as its value is independent of anyone’s recognition;

(5) impartiality insofar as it cuts against or privileges no common life interest;

(6) completeness insofar as it includes every life form, domain, or change to ill or better in distinct or holistic comprehension;

(7) sovereignty in that it overrides any other value in cases of conflict;

(8) measurable in degrees of value insofar as greater/lesser ranges of thought, felt being and action can be decided in any case from any given reference body of value;

(9) contingent pattern of long-term evolutionary and historical development.

The Primary Axiom is realised in the real world by the following complete set of universal human life necessities and their defined criteria/measures:

Principle 1The ultimate organising principle of any life-coherent society or economy through generational time is secure access to means of life/life goods otherwise in short supply (ie., the production and distribution of goods and the protection of ecosystem services in accord with Principles 2 through 7).

ConverseAny social or economic system succeeds/falls short/fails to the extent that it does/does not so secure, produce, distribute means of life/life goods. 

Principle 2A means of life is a means of life if and only if it enables life capacities/abilities not possible without it (eg., food, water, shelter and literacy education).

ConverseClaimed ‘goods’ which disable or do not enable life capacities/abilities are not means of life (eg., junk commodities).

Principle 3: The complete and universal set of means of life which all humans require to flourish as human are:

  • breathable air, sense-open space, and daily light
    (atmospheric means of life)
  • clean water, nourishing foods and self-waste disposal
    (bodily means of life)
  • shelter space from the elements with ample provision to retire, sleep and function
    (home means of life)
  • environmental surroundings whose elements and contours contribute to the whole
    (environmental means of life)
  • intimate love, social inclusion, safety and healthcare when ill or infirm
    (caring means of life)
  • activities of language-logos/art-play to choose and learn from
    (educational/recreational means of life)
  • meaningful work or service to perform
    (vocational means of life)
  • self-governing choice in each’s enjoyment consistent with each’s provision
    (social justice)

Converse: Any priced commodity which does not directly or indirectly provide means of life/life goods for these needs is uneconomic, and anti-economic to the extent of life resources wasted on the commodity’s production and consumption (eg., non-growth addictive commodities).

Principle 4: The provision, or the deprivation, of each and all of these means of life/life goods is measurable by greater/lesser sufficiency (e.g., of clean water, living space and life-coherent environment, work hours contributing to others’ wellbeing).

ConverseWillingness or ability to pay prices for commodities does not measure their life requirement, but increasingly the opposite (e.g., fast-foods, leisure motor vehicles)

Principle 5: The true measure of the overall performance of any society or economy is its civil commons development or the full access of its members to these life goods (including the work share required to provide them) in comparison to a previous state of the society or economy, or to another socioeconomic order (eg., greater/lesser nutritional-intake, clean water accessibility/inaccessibility, bio-diverse environment, literacy gain/loss, life expectancy rise/fall, livelihood participation/exclusion, creative activities of art and play).

Converse: Growth of aggregate commodities sold in a society (GDP) is never an accurate or reliable measure of a society or economy’s development unless it is made to correspond to the access of its members to life goods as defined (eg., as already achieved in universal health-care, higher education, library and play-areas not dependent on private money demand).

Principle 6The primary capital of any society or economy is Life Capital (LC→LC1→LC n) = the wealth of means of life/life goods that produce more without loss in cumulative yield through time (eg., species/ecological, social, and knowledge capital which reproduce and grow if not deprived by life-blind mechanisms of private money growth-predating them in carcinogenic self-multiplication).

Converse: Claimed “capital” which does not directly or indirectly produce means of life through time is false capital, and is inefficient in proportion to its misallocation of scarce economic resources to its growth (eg., money capital growth by non-defensive weapons manufacture, currency speculation, production of life-disabling consumer commodities).

Principle 7: The efficiency of any product, tool or process increases, and only increases, to the extent that:

i: inputs and throughputs function to enable the provision of life goods with diminishing waste and externalities (eg., organic farming methods, industries directed towards 100% recycling) = Ecological Efficiency

ii: reduced inputs of materials/energy/space/mandatory work time produce same or greater means of life outputs (eg., wheel and pulley structures, cooperative organisation of work/leisure requirements, lower labour/fuel-per-unit machines) = Physical Input-Output Efficiency

iii: capability development of productive agents enables more life goods, life-time, and/or life-range choices than before (eg., by education, healthcare, and vocational work) = Human Development Efficiency

ConverseInsofar as higher money profit margins do not produce greater Ecological, Input or Human Development Efficiency, they are inefficient and diseconomic by the life capital resources wasted and destroyed by life-incoherent allocation of them  (e.g., CEO fortunes gained by slashing work forces, environmental controls, taxes on the rich while demanding rising public wealth privatizations and subsidies for profit gains throughout societies’ evolved life capital bases and civil commons).

John McMurtry Ph.D (University College London)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Professor of Philosophy
University Professor Emeritus
University of Guelph Ontario, Canada NIG2W1
Philosophy and World Problems
Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)
UNESCO, Paris-Oxford

23 thoughts on “Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology | The Primary Axiom of Life Value and the Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision by Prof John McMurtry

  1. Professor McMurtry has done a masterful job of describing specific values for life. However, these principles are based on what is, not what might be, if we were only to understand our origins and the causal mechanisms of our evolution, as we have done in Torday JS and Rehan VK. Evolutionary Biology, Cell-Cell Communication and Complex Disease. Wiley, 2012; Torday JS and Rehan VK. Evolution, the Logic of Biology, 2017. It is only when we drill down to our origins and how and why we have evolved in response to an ever-changing environment that we can truly understand who, what and why we are. It’s like the difference between Newton’s description of gravity and Einstein’s determination of the mechanism by which gravity affects matter. The former is anecdotal, whereas the latter links to the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

    1. Reply from Prof John McMurtry:

      The eminent Professor Torday’s kind response to Understanding Life-Value Onto Axiology,  which has only now come to my attention, shows a fundamental logical misunderstanding of its defining principles. I show this now in minimalist capitalist letters within his text jtorday@ucla.edu 4 Dec 2019 at 10:04 am :

      “Professor McMurtry has done a masterful job THANK YOU of describing specific values for life.” THEY ARE NOT SPECIFIC VALUES BUT EXPLICITLY UNIVERSAL VALUES/DISVALUES APPLYING TO ALL HUMAN SOCIETIES AND THEIR GOVERNING OR OPPOSING VALUE SYSTEMS – INCLUDING THE GLOBAL MONEY-CAPITAL SYSTEM OF THE LAST 50 YEARS.  “However, these principles are based on what is, not what might be”, IN FACT THESE PRINCIPLES COVER ALL POSSIBILITIES OF GOOD AND BAD VALUES ANYWHERE AND AT ANY TIME, INCLUDING THE FUTURE. ANY EXAMPLE OF ‘WHAT MIGHT BE’ THAT IS NOT COVERED IS WELCOME “if we were only to understand our origins and the causal mechanisms of our evolution as we have done in Torday JS and Rehan VK. Evolutionary Biology, Cell-Cell Communication and Complex Disease. Wiley, 2012; Torday JS and Rehan VK. Evolution, the Logic of Biology, 2017”, HUMAN EVOLUTION IS ONLY HUMAN INSOFAR AS IT HAS GOVERNING HUMAN-MADE NORMS WHICH LVOA COVERS AND EVALUATES, AND PHYSIOLOGY AND THIS TEXT DO NOT. “It is only when we drill down to our origins” OF LANGUAGES? OF NORMS? OF THEIR LIFE VALUE AND DISVALUE? and how and why we have evolved in response to an ever-changing environment that we can truly understand who, what and why we are.” BUT SUCH UNDERSTANDING CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT TAKING ACCOUNT OF WHAT MAKES HUMANS HUMAN AS A SPECIES – THE FACT THAT THEY MAKE THEIR OWN RULES OF HOW TO LIVE IN DIFFERENT AND CONTESTED VALUES AND FORMS OF LIFE AT HISTORICAL, CULTURAL, MORAL, TECHNOLOGICAL-ECONOMIC LEVELS. “It’s like the difference between Newton’s description of gravity and Einstein’s determination of the mechanism by which gravity affects matter.” THIS ANALOGY IS INCOHERENT WITH THIS TOPIC. PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW THE COMPARISON APPLIES. The former is anecdotal, whereas the latter links to the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics”. LVOA IS EXPLICITLY NON-ANECDOTAL AND PRINCIPLED AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF GENERALIZATION. IT IS PREDICTIVE WHERE THE RULING NORMATIVE SYSTEM IS LOCKED INTO LIFE-BLIND MECHANISM, BUT CHOICE SPACE TOWARDS LIFE-COHERENT GOVERNANCE ALWAYS EXISTS. UNDERSTANDING LIFE-VALUE ONTO-AXIOLOGY DEFINES THE ULTIMATELY REGULATING PRINCIPLES OF VALUE AND DISVALUE AT WORK AND THEIR OPPOSING POSSIBLE CHOICE SPACES UNDERLYING ALL HUMAN-SPECIES REGRESSION AND EVOLUTION. I WELCOME ANY DEMONSTRATION OTHERWISE.

      Best wishes,

      John

      John McMurtry Ph.D (University College London)
      Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
      Professor of Philosophy and University Professor Emeritus
      University of Guelph, Canada NIG2W1
      Philosophy and World Problems
      Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)
      UNESCO, Paris-Oxford
      Telephone: 519-824-4174

  2. “capital” which does not directly or indirectly produce means of life through time is false capital,

    “The complete and universal set of means of life which all humans require to flourish as human are:
    ….meaningful work or service to perform
    (vocational means of life)…
    …self-governing choice in each’s enjoyment consistent with each’s provision”

    There is no thing such as “false capital” as long as the engagement in production is willing.

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