Title of Presentation: Ecological Ethics: Inclusive Wealth Index and Beyond
Abstract: In my 14th Sustainable Shared Growth Seminar paper, I made reference to “development that meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the right of future generations to fulfill their needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development [WCED], 1987) as an important notion for ecological sustainability. One of my research proposals was to demand from businesses and markets that they ensure that metrics include their ability to minimize environmental degradation and decline. Traditional indicators such as per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI) are the primary metrics in assessing the progress of nations today. This created fundamental problems: increases in total economic production do not necessarily translate into improvements in human well-being. Development is human and integral only to the degree that people flourish across the entire range of their personal gifts—body, mind, and spirit. In concrete terms, this means that people live in the heights of the human values of truth, freedom, justice, love, and friendship. While the Inclusive Wealth Report of the UN has proposed and developed the ‘Inclusive Wealth Index’ –which includes NATURAL CAPITAL and, in particular, ecosystem services–, such other goods as: the personal and social virtues, the quality of social relations, and personal initiative are equally essential, apart from wealth in the comprehensive measure of ‘prosperity for all’. In other words, if the core problems of the environment are in great measure ecological, their causes are largely anthropogenic. This presentation explores: (1) the role of improved social institutions in resolving ecological problems, (2) the introduction of more social enterprises whose principal function is to address an intractable social need and serve the common good, and (3) the critical role of the virtues –especially the cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence, justice–, for these make the person more able to deliberate about and successfully pursue both his own good and the good of the communities to which he belongs.
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