Ask a thousand people and some version of family, health, education, safety, work, and maybe happiness, are up there on top of the list for everyone.
The evolutionary biologist knows this already because these values map directly onto fundamentals that apply to all organisms — the blueprint for organic life.
survival, growth, and reproduction
Happiness and the many other higher self values that are supposed to be unique to humans are also predictable for an organism that can integrate the basic values into something bigger.
We can smile when we have the fundamental values met.
What value means
Value when used as a noun to mean one’s judgement of what is important in life is consistent with this evolutionary idea. What is important in life is what gets us to the successful reproduction of our lineage in spite of the drama.
Then we also use value as a verb meaning to estimate the monetary worth or consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial.
This too is consistent with the evolutionary imperative.
Items and actions that are important, beneficial, and financial all matter to how successful we think we are, be that in the evolutionary currency of reproductive success or the more immediate race against the Joneses.
Value as a verb — the expression of an action or a state of being — is to estimate or assign the monetary worth to an object or service or anything with utility.
It can also mean to rate or scale in usefulness, importance, or general worth.
Either way, value is linked to the modern expression of evolutionary success, namely money.
All this makes the claim by economists that economic theory is value-free quite absurd.
And yet we let such theory run our society.
Why would we run the show on a supposed value-free premise, when in reality we value everything?