Value Judgment

Definition

Health Economics

  • An ethical opinion made either implicitly or explicitly that a particular course of action, institutional arrangement or method of analysis ought to be implemented, or is itself good. For example, the judgment that consumers' willingness to pay ought to determine the allocation of health care services is a value judgment. The judgment that the location and type of services actually provided is determined by willingness to pay is not a value judgment (it is a hypothesis about what causes location that can be tested empirically). The judgment that economics ought to be value-free is itself a value judgment. The judgment that economics is value-free is not a value judgment (it is a false statement of fact). Option appraisals, cost-effectiveness analyses and similar evaluative methods typically involve many kinds of judgment, only some of which are judgments of value. A particular class of value judgment is to do with the welfare of the members of society: how it ought to be measured, how changes in it or in its distribution ought to be assessed, or whether a particular intervention or change is likely to have an impact on it for better or worse. A common conflict of values arises in public health policy when mandatory policies (e.g. on no-smoking areas, the wearing of safety helmets and car seatbelt restraints) may enhance health but offend freedom of choice.
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