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Beyond Self

Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Economics


Laszlo Zsolnai

This book addresses ethical and spiritual issues in economics. The central idea advanced in the book is that the extreme focus on the self by economic actors leads to the destruction of both material and non-material values.
The assumptions of self-interest in behavior represent the core of mainstream economics today. From this perspective, the welfare of economic agents depends on their own consumption; their goal is to maximize their own welfare; and their choice is guided by the pursuit of their own goals.
Throughout the book the author argues that self-interest-based actions and policies have a detrimental impact on nature, future generations, and society at large. If we want to survive and flourish in the material world we have to transcend the self and embrace wholeness. This value shift requires enormous changes in economics, politics and social life, but there may not be any other option in light of the current state of ecological degradation and human suffering.
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Chapter 12: The Ethics of Systems Thinking

← 165 | 166 →1 The Completeness of Evaluation Criteria


← 164 | 165 → CHAPTER 12

The Ethics of Systems Thinking*

Systems thinking is represented by the pioneering works of West E. Churchman, Russell Ackoff, Ian Mitroff, and others. In this paper I explore ethical assumptions and implications of system thinking with reference to social and environmental decision making.

Influenced by systems thinking Jozsef Kindler, professor of decision sciences and co-founder of the Business Ethics Center at Corvinus University of Budapest, developed a new methodology for multidimensional decision making (Kindler and Papp 1977). Kindler’s methodology is designed for multi-criteria evaluation of complex systems. It can serve as a prime illustration of the ethical agenda of systems thinking.

I focus on three crucial elements of the Kindler’s methodology:

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