Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Cretan Commitment

What do economists have to say about the ecological and economic crises?

I had the fortune to visit the beautiful island of Crete during the first week of June with a group of people thinking and debating on the roots of the economic and ecological crises, how to respond to it and what the role of environmental ethics is in this regard.

The organiser asked me to draft a synopsis, a sort of an appeal to fellow economists. Here it is:

1. The current Keynesian economic response to the crises, with a focus on credit and spending does not recognise the deeper structural, ethical and ontological roots of the crises.

2. The ‘Green New Deal’, a response where green economy strategies are launched around the globe that promise jobs, a revitalized economy and at the same time intended to start addressing the ecological crises mostly through the deployment of cleaner technology, is not a sufficient response as it does not recognise the ethical and ontological dimensions of the crises.

3. It is recognised that ecological economics as an emerging interdisciplinary science includes elements of nature, justice and dynamics in its view of reality.

4. Ecological economists are called to challenge the problem of moral choice in the context of intellectual pluralism and the implications of a generalised theory of entropy that guides action-orientated decisions on sustainability.

5. Ecological economists are called to recognise the fragility of their discipline and build up a more resilient and integer theory to assist in transitions towards better sustainability.

6. Economists are called to further develop and build on theories that view individuals and communities as moral agents, and not as agents either naturalistically determined or endowed with unlimited freedom of individuality.

7. Economists are called to reflect on the paradigmatic implications of the idea that human beings are not autonomous, but stand in relation to God, to other human beings and to God’s creation.

8. Economists are called to recognise that theology, the study on the nature of God, as revealed in Word and creation, has a lot to offer on both the organisation/structure, as well as direction of such relationships.

9. Economists are called to recognise that ethics is not the outcome of self-interested choice.

10. Economists are called to reflect on the idea that the source of ethics is not revealed within human reason or in human experience, nor in the laws of nature, but is solely based in revelation by God as read in God’s own creation and in the written Word.

11. Economists are also called to study and respond to the ontological critique that economic science does not account for the wholeness of reality, as evident by its tendency to focus on the outcomes of a deductive, mathematical approach as a basis for real-world interventions.

12. Economists are called to develop approaches, models and tools that do better justice to complex realities, accepting the importance of the particular as well as the broader systematic unity of things.

13. Economists are called to realise that the power of the discipline in contemporary culture stand within a context, comes with an enormous responsibility to act for the improvement of the lot of humanity and of creation.

14. Economists are called, like anyone else, to take serious the idea that we are accountable to the living God, and should strive to come to wise decisions on how to manage the interrelationships amongst humans and the earth that God has created and sustains every day.

Note: This is a draft synopsis as based solely on my own interpretation and do not necessary represent those of others at the symposium