Are there such things as “objective values”? That is, are there values that have a claim to objective reality in much the same way as the laws of physics? Or are all value claims subjective, nothing more than a matter of personal taste and desire, without any special reference to what is real beyond the fact of the desire?
Caution needs to be exercised here, as the framing of the questions above pose a false dichotomy. In addition, asking about objective values is a different question from that regarding the existence of objective morality. Values can be morally neutral, whereas morals are a very definite sub-collection of values. It is possible that some values might be objectively real (chocolate is objectively yummy not because we like it, but because it is just the best thing in the world), without ever entailing (in the logical sense of formal implication at the deepest levels of meaning) that any objectively real morals exist. Conversely, there can be objectively real moral values which nevertheless offer no further implications to the full range of other values, or even to other putative moral values. The relations involved are not simple ones, and do not involve set-theoretic/mereological containments (A is a smaller part of B) nor any necessarily transitive implications (that is, A implies B, and B implies C, therefore A implies C.) Connections – insofar as they exist at all – are “thin,” and can fade with the (metaphorical) “distance” between acts of evaluations, intentions, meanings, and values themselves.