From Utilitarianism To Ethics: The Social Principles of Economic Sustainability

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‘From Utilitarianism To Ethics: The Social Principles of Economic Sustainability’ blog post by John Ikerd.

knowledgEnabler‘s insight:

[Economic sustainability & Culture]: From Utilitarianism To Ethics: The Social Principles of Economic Sustainability! #ecoNable #Econologics


People need relationships with other people for reasons that are purely personal – meaning not economic. Human history verifies the inherent social nature of the human species.


Society, as a general concept, includes all direct and indirect relationships among people – within families, friendships, communities, societies, and nations. People obviously have banded together in families and communities or tribes, for purposes of security, trade, and reproduction.


Social Values Differ But Principles Same Everywhere

Social standards or norms of human behavior evolve from a common understanding of necessary means for sustaining positive personal relationships. Social values are attempts to translate the essential principles of personal relationships into practical guidelines for day-to-day living.


Core Values of Humankind

People in different cultures obviously have different social values, but a common set of core values are shared across virtually all cultures of civilized society. These core values include such human characteristics as honesty, fairness, responsibility, respect, and compassion.


Trust is Universal

Positive personal relationships must be built on trust. Trust is a “rule-based” principle of human behavior, meaning it is a universal standard of conduct deemed appropriate for all people under all conditions.


Kindness & Empathy

Positive social relationships must also be based on kindness.


Moral Courage

Positive social relationships also require courage.


From Utilitarianism To Ethics
Unfortunately, the global economy is dominated by a utilitarian or ends-based ethic that places no value of human relationships unless something of value is expected in return. The rightness or goodness of decisions and actions is judged solely by their consequences or results, and the economic consequences are the only ones that seem to matter.


The supposed objective of such intentions is to do the “greatest good for the greatest number of people.” But the “greatest good” has become synonymous with the “greatest wealth,” as measured by personal prosperity, regional economic development, or the value of national economic output.


The “greatest goods” arising from trust and kindness have no economic value, as explained in The Essentials of Economic Sustainability. It will take moral courage to speak the truth about the dependence of economic sustainability on the essential social principles of trust, kindness, and courage.

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