Modelling value change; An exploratory approach

Modelling value change; An exploratory approach (version 1.0.0)

This model has been developed together with the publication ‘Modelling Value Change - An Exploratory Approach’

Value change and moral change have increasingly become topics of interest in the philosophical literature. Several theoretical accounts have been proposed. Such accounts are usually based on certain theoretical and conceptual assumptions and their strengths and weaknesses are often hard to determine and compare, also because they are based on limited empirical evidence.

We propose that a step forward can be made with the help of agent-based modelling (ABM). ABM can be used to investigate whether a simulation model based on a specific account of value change can reproduce relevant phenomena. To illustrate this approach, we built a model based on the pragmatist account of value change proposed in van de Poel and Kudina (2022). We show that this model can reproduce four relevant phenomena, namely 1) the inevitability and stability of values, 2) how different societies may react differently to external shocks, 3) moral revolutions, and 4) lock-in.

Release Notes

The model can be used to evaluate how different types of societies respond to moral problems caused by technologies.

In the section ‘Initial characteristics of the society’, characteristics of the society can be set. Societies are characterized by different preferable choices when confronted with new moral problems: value adaptation, value dynamism, and innovation. Some societies are also more open to change than others (‘openness to change’).

The section ‘Monitoring problem-solving capacity of the society’ shows how well the society is able to cope with moral issues. This is measured by the number of moral problems currently observed in society and their severity.

The section ‘Monitoring phenomena of value change’ can be used to observe a range of phenomena of value change discussed in the paper: ‘The inevitability and stability of values’, ‘Societies differ in openness – and resistance- to change’, ‘Moral revolutions’ and ‘Lock-in’. Whether phenomena of value change occur depends on the initial characteristics of the society.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at