Deliberative valuation is based on the assumption that valuation is a social process in which values are discovered, constructed and reflected in a dialogue with others. It is particularly suited for understanding the meanings that people attribute to nature and its contributions to people, such as holistic concepts of the land. Therefore, deliberative valuation invites stakeholders and citizens to form their preferences for ecosystem services together through an open dialogue, which allows consideration of ethical beliefs, moral commitments and social norms beyond individual and collective utility.

A deliberative approach can help integrate and bridge values when applied to various valuation methods. It can also be used to make publicly accepted and legitimate decisions that influence human-nature relationships. From a temporal perspective, deliberative valuation can capture the interests of future generations in addition to the interests of present generations. From the aspect of social organization, deliberation invites participants to express principled views of the public interests not private preferences about their own consumption opportunities as consumers.

Deliberative valuation accepts that values are plural and often incommensurable. The result of valuation is either consensus if values converge during the discussions or the clear and equal representation of conflicting values reflecting their incommensurability.