10 ways to avoid the ethical
At one time or another, most of us would like to avoid the ethical. By ethical I mean the moral dimension of our relationship with others. As I have detailed in Civilizing the Economy, one of the best illustrations of this is Adam Smith’s use of the “invisible hand” in his The Wealth of Nations. It allowed him to avoid a moral relationship with the slaves in the colonies who created the wealth he enjoyed in the 1760s. This avoidance, in fact, is a central aspect of the long legacy of our Anglo-American property-based capitalism. Still, Smith is certainly not alone. In fact, there are probably more ways to avoid the ethical than one could count. I think the following 10 could be at the top of most lists.
- To believe in an “invisible hand”
- To limit one’s description of events to “the way things work.”
- To believe that whatever happened was part of God’s plan
- To assume it could not have been otherwise
- To only focus on what might emerge from what happened
- To see everything as autobiographical
- To believe that whatever happened to others could not happen to me.
- To believe that whatever happens was supposed to happen
- To assume that there are really different kinds of people
- To shut down one’s empathy with others