But what about the other direction: when policies generate values? That's what I'm trying to tie into this broader context.

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Meta:

In political science, I tend to see work on the policy level: attitude change, belief change, and compliance (endorsement) gaining. In ethics, I mainly see the value level: the structure of values, the consistency & rationality of values, and even value change. In both fields, there's a lot of work on policymaking: what's the optimal strategy to achieve some set of goals; what are the optimal decisions to fulfill some ethical values. That is, how values generate policies.

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Those original policies were endorsed and had the opportunity to supplant the values *because* people were persuaded that they would successfully fulfill those original values. But once the supplantation is done, new information that would've otherwise undermined the credibility of those policies is useless; that the policies may not fulfill the values that generated them is irrelevant, because they are now the values.

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If policies could be expected to align with values, supplantation wouldn't be much of a problem: the values would be supplanted by differently structured but practically similar values.

But because that's not the case, when policies intended to achieve values supplant those values, the new values and the new policies they generate will probably lean towards vastly different ends than the prior values.

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I think it's interesting because it's dangerous: the vast majority of policies won't succeed in fulfilling the values, and the bigger & broader the domain is, the harder finding an effective policy will be.

Society-scale policymaking hasn't been reliable enough to be confident that more than a few of the policies people have endorsed throughout history fall into the successful subset. For the most part, the policies people endorse would have consequences hella different from their values.

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I even wonder whether the cognitive and cultural mechanisms that determine how these primordial values are supplanted are the same ones that determine how more complex "policy-values" are supplanted by other policies.

The differences may be big enough that studying the general case may not be very useful for understanding this primary, primordial sub-case.

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But implicit in my thinking about "policies supplanting values" is that the initial values being supplanted are values of a certain kind. They are sorts of primordial values; they're broad, vague, and personal: "food and safety for my people", "happiness for everyone", "less pain for myself", etc.

In this sense, there really are substantial differences between "values" and "policies" that are much more than relational.

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That policies can become values makes it seem that the difference between "policies" and "values" is purely relational: take the substance underlying the values and the substance underlying the policies, and the line between them is that one is the deepest, bottom-level goal and the other is a set of looser goals which may eventually descend and usurp the bottom-level themselves.

Beyond their "level" in relation to each other, there's no substantial difference between policies and values.

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For political change, I think "policies supplanting values" is central: people start out thinking "how can we fulfill this value", search for persuasive policies, find & pursue them, and eventually replace "how can we fulfill this value" with "how can we manifest these policies" both cognitively and culturally.

I've called it "supplantation" and just found something functionally equiv that has an actual name: "surrogation".

Maly

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