Ethical Stance

ENL’s ethical stance is that all human beings, present and future, are of high and equal worth.

Any conceptual framework that seeks to guide economies towards sustainability and well-being must have an ethical stance at its foundation. Without this basis it is impossible to formulate a meaningful economic goal, and thus to separate rational from irrational economic objectives.

The assertion that all human beings are of high worth implies that their well-being should be maximized.

The assertion that they are of equal worth implies that no-one should be economically deprived for someone else’s benefit. In other words, one person should not “steal” economically from another person—either someone who is currently alive or a member of a future generation.

ENL’s economic goal of sustainable well-being is intended to reflect this ethical position. Well-being applies to everyone in the present, whereas sustainable seeks to make well-being possible for everyone in the future.

Two important points must be made about this stance.

First, the “equal worth” criterion does not mean that everyone must be economically equal. If inequality raises the sustainable level of well-being for all, then no-one has been deprived for someone else’s benefit.

It is true that inequality has serious implications for social stability and solidarity, and these factors must be carefully considered in determining how much inequality, if any, to permit. But equality (sameness) is not synonymous with equity (fairness), and the two must be distinguished if we are to apply ENL’s ethical position without distortion.

This topic is addressed further as part of ENL's approach to maximizing economic gains.

Second, the interpretation of “all people” in the ethical statement depends on the geographical scope chosen by the analyst. While this scope is ideally global, such a broad reach may be unrealistic for a variety of reasons. It may therefore be necessary to apply the ethical stance to a region instead.

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