Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

What’s a Citizen?

Posted Apr 29, 2010 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 91 Comments

In my business ethics classes, I ask students to take on the role of a citizen when we consider the ethics of business in society.  What does that mean, especially in a classroom filled with students from perhaps ten to twelve different countries?  What would it look like for a student from China or from Indonesia to take on the role of citizen in an ethics class in the United States?

I begin the exploration of this question by sharing the original meaning of citizen.  A citizen is a “member of a city.”  Citizenship, in other words, provides us a consciousness of membership.  Today, of course, we would extend membership beyond any particular city to the global community.  I think of global citizenship, for of all, as an awareness of belonging to this generation.  In our global, pluralistic world, to see oneself as a member of this generation is no small undertaking.

Is the Biosphere Priceless?

Posted Apr 19, 2010 by Darilyn Kotzenberg in Uncategorized, 28 Comments

The German nineteenth century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, wrote that there are two kinds of things: things that have a price and those that have a dignity.  For Kant, only human beings have a dignity because they alone have autonomy.  I would like to suggest that we should add to Kant’s list of those things that have a dignity the biosphere in which we live, or to say it in other words, the biosphere is priceless.

Civilizing the Economy: what we can do if the myths of capitalism don’t add up to the facts

Posted Apr 6, 2010 by Darilyn Kotzenberg in Uncategorized, 108 Comments

If you want to prove capitalism works, you might think back to 18th century Glasgow.  That’s where Adam Smith was when he created the theory of market capitalism – he looked around, saw open markets, saw competition, saw the industriousness and prosperity that resulted, and correctly concluded that a system of free markets based on competition benefits everyone.

Everyone, that is, except the slaves.

Because what Smith’s famous example leaves out is the fact that Scotland’s prosperity was the result not just of free markets, but of slaves in the Americas producing tobacco that could be shipped to Scotland for processing.  Without the slaves, the system wouldn’t have worked.  To read more click here

Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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