Economy of Virtue


Code Napoléon as published in 1804

The morality of Capitalism is infamously that anything goes as long as it does not risk causing prosecution, meaning a certain kind of legalism according to which unethical behavior is completely acceptable as long as being deemed “legal”. However, treating others unethically is hardly conducive to international trade, free markets, innovation and entrepreneurship. In fact, unethical behaviors rather cause economic distrust, social strife, political instability and ultimately is the major destroyer of goodwill and brands.

Many major companies have in recent years devised more or less seriously intended so called “codes of conduct” out of a realization that it is either profitable to act ethically or at least as Machiavelli would put it at least give the impression of acting ethically. The economic profitability of ethics is well established, yet the problem remains that unethical behaviors still do largely remain legal.

The separation of morality and legality is a child of the so called “Enlightenment” and indeed a desire to escape annoying clerical Christian notions of morality. The separation of morality and legality was thus indeed a child of the separation of church and state. This separation has however come to influence the development of halakha and sharia in that Orthoprax Jewish and Muslim religious jurisprudence too no longer think of religious law as a matter of morality but rather one of exercise of celestial power, much like historically the Catholic church.

The problem with Capitalism is neither private ownership nor profits but rather one of legislation in “secular” laws in permitting clearly unethical behaviors such as the absolutely despicable Animal Industry of Evil. What do I mean by unethical behaviors? First it is important to understand that the philosophical study of ethics is about understanding when nominally unethical behaviors are considered necessary indeed. Many companies therefore will say in their moral defense that they cannot afford to be more ethical than their domestic and international competitors.

Ethical legislation of economic practices therefore need to be spelled out in international law in outlawing unethical economic behaviors generally excepting in some instances due to force majeure. This means that economic actors must not mistreat others including employees, customers, trading partners, non-human persons and the so called “environment”, meaning non-human societies. It also means that it must become illegal to purchase illegally produced goods/services much like it is illegal to purchase stolen goods. What is needed therefore is a universal code of conduct with the status of international law.

Economic legislation should not be the domain of national legislation precisely because of the importance of fair play; indeed that economic actors everywhere are bound by the same sets of highly ethically ambitious law setting the rules for economic interaction everywhere in human societies. Leaders of developing countries may say that this is to their disadvantage as emerging Capitalist societies have always tolerated social mistreatment and they may claim that this is purportedly to the economic advantage of emerging Capitalist societies. While historically it is certainly true that social exploitation has typically been widespread in emerging Capitalist societies, this is not to the advantage of anyone as citizens of emerging economies rather need to be educationally empowered as innovators and entrepreneurs rather than being treated as nominally “voluntary” slaves. Socio-economic mistreatment has indeed the opposite effect of empowerment as the system of education needs to produce strong persons as not misguided by fears and who instead dare become independent-thinking actors of history as opposed to currently being trained for becoming obedient, essentially non-thinking employees.

Acting ethically is not only profitable for companies but highly ethical companies typically also present far less economic risk for investors. There is however little crisis awareness considering that economic history finds itself at a junction where increasingly mass professions whether blue collar or white collar are increasingly supplanted by advanced technology. This is indeed the meaning of the ongoing transition from Capitalism to Talentism in economic history. What will remain therefore are advanced professional skills requiring emotions, meaning advanced so called talent as even something as sacrosanct as organizations can and will no doubt in the foreseeable future become supplanted by a mere app in your smartphone. However unless there is increasing crisis awareness is there definitely much negative potential for the transition from Capitalism to Talentism becoming extremely socio-economically painful just like the transition from Feudalism to Capitalism is still typically extremely socio-economically painful indeed in emerging economies.

The economics of virtue are rather one of very clear and indeed enforceable international law criminalizing virtually every kind of unethical corporate behavior. Once this is in place however will this very substantially facilitate economic interaction, economic growth and indeed a culture of economic trust as indeed conducive to both innovation and entrepreneurship. This means no less than criminalizing legalism itself just as the Nuremburg trials disqualified as illegal legalism the nominally accurate legal claims by Nazi war criminals that they indeed broke no law. This is thus already part of the laws of war but need to become part of global economic legislation as well. The criminalization of legalism excepting certain instances of force majeure is therefore essential indeed for facilitating the transition from Capitalism to Talentism as the emerging economic era of Talentism will no doubt require very different sets of rules of economic legislation.

In fact, treating everyone well is particularly important in enhancing economic performance everywhere. This means not only direct ethics such as treating others optimally well but also indirect ethics such as always purchasing one of the most ethical alternatives. This would for example mean that given the choice between petroleum-based plastic materials and bio-degradable plastic materials would companies be required to buy the bio-degradable plastic materials as the petroleum-based plastic materials would become illegal by default under international law due to simply being in comparison unethical.

The economics of virtue therefore require complete transparency. This means that there should be one global electronic currency for all human societies and all economic transactions should be transparently documented so as to ensure full legal accountability. In fact, there is no valid reason whatsoever why not all economic transactions by exactly everyone should be fully public. Companies and private persons really should not have anything to hide whatsoever. An economy of virtue also requires rethinking intellectual rights in that the patent system needs to be abolished and the timespan for copyright (including for technological designs) needs become as short as possible.

Indeed the timespan from idea to market needs to be substantially shortened. In a VR (virtual reality) economy will consumers shop in virtual malls and then will their purchased products be printed out by 3D printers at home using materials recycled from previously purchased yet already discarded items or the products will perhaps be produced and provided by even more advanced technologies such as replication technologies and teleportation technologies. Intellectual rights thus need to protect designs but for a legal period no longer than absolutely necessary. Quality should also be legislated by international economic laws so that bad quality will become illegal indeed. Only the very good will be good enough in an economy of virtue where law is ethics of the highest standards possible.

In an economy of virtue will mistreating others for economic gain become completely illegal and so the only way to protect a company and its executives from prosecution and subsequent sentenced economic penalty and sentenced public humiliation will be to most sincerely strive for the highest corporate ethical standards possible. By setting the bar very high will the results indeed be a globally transparent economy of virtue where unethical behavior is illegal and virtue the only way to wealth.

Paragraphic law is a Para-Christian residue of barely secularized Christendom and typically allows for ever-increasing loopholes for justifying legally permitted unethical practices and behavior. Legal paragraphs e.g. 1:1:1 follow the pattern of biblical books, e.g. Samuel II 2:2. All so called “secular laws” are however based on axiomatic law in that legal adjudication is based on deciding which axiom that should be given preference in a given situation where one or legal axioms comes into conflict with another legal axiom. This is indeed what all jurisprudence is about whether relating to religious law or “secular” law. What is needed therefore is for a parliament legislate worthy axioms and jurists need simply be trained in making adjudication between conflicting axioms as ethical as possible. This is the essence of jurisprudence and the rest is mere exercise of power.

Worthy axioms indeed therefore need to be harvested from cultures and literatures globally irrespective of these being perceived as so called “religious” or so called “secular”. This worldwide harvest of axioms obviously needs to be highly ethical and culturally inclusive and so both national and international law need to be founded on highly ethical adjudication between competing axioms. Just as the Code Napoléon supplanted previous layers of legislation from the feudal economic era so need harvested axiomatic law indeed supplant existing forms of legislation worldwide.