Allen Johnson’s op-ed on values and principles (TCH, June 5) distinguishes the two along subjective (values) and objective (principles) domains. Values are social constructs that determine personal preferences, while principles are “unchangeable ... timeless and self-evident natural laws.”
If values are based on subjective personal preferences reflecting social norms, then what are principles based upon? Johnson provides no answer. If principles are “self-evident natural laws” (e.g., “we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal”), then does it follow that all principles are created and universally applicable?
If principles focus on what is right, does it not follow that the person who holds the principle as a value is also right? Does not principle determine who is right, not merely what is right? Cannot values be expressions of principle and based on principle?
Finally, cannot principles, not just values, be based on religion? Not being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” may be a principle for a religious person, as it is based on a created norm. Values are the worth placed on certain principles by people, which varies and is not universally acknowledged or endorsed by all cultures. Values are not simply based on personal opinion.
Rodney Nelson, Richland