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What Determines the Boundary of Civil Society?

Hume, Smith and the Justification of European Exploitation of Non-Europeans

Elias L. Khalil

Civil society consists of members obligated to respect each other's rights and, hence, trade with each other as equals. What determines the boundary, rather than the nature, of civil society? For Adam Smith, the boundary consists of humanity itself because it is determined by identification: humans identify with other humans because of common humanness. While Smith's theory can explain the emotions associated with justice (jubilance) and injustice (resentment), it provides a mushy ground for the boundary question: Why not extend the common identity to nonhuman animals? Or why not restrict the boundary to one's own dialect, ethnicity or race? For David Hume, the boundary need not consist of humanity itself because it is determined by self-interest: a European need not respect the property of outsiders such as Native Americans, if the European benefits more by exploiting them than including them in the European society. While Hume's theory can provide a solid ground for the boundary question, it cannot explain the emotions associated with justice. This paper suggests a framework that combines the strengths, and avoids the shortcomings, of Smith's and Hume's theories.

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Human Connection in the Light of the Writings of Karl Marx and Amartya Sen

An Investigation Using Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Manik Bandyopadhyay's Ekannoborti

Simantini Mukhopadhyay

Human Connection as the Transcendence of Self-Interest Amartya Sen (1987 , 2009 ) has lamented in several writings that a “smallness” was thrust upon Adam Smith in most later representations of his thinking, which he did not deserve

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Corporate Social Responsibility

The Great Shell Game

Ellen Hertz

institutions, and the attitudes of the public make it in their self-interest to cloak their actions in this way’ ( Friedman 1970: 17 ). Friedman's analysis leads him to what seems like an absurdly ideological conclusion, discrediting him in the eyes of

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Bruce Kogut

University of Pennsylvania and École PolytThe book by Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello on the new spirit of capitalism returns to the question that puzzled the social thinkers of an earlier time: How does capitalism manufacture the ideological foundations of social peace, despite its hollow spiritual core and its creation of inequities? Their argument, reminiscent of Gramsci’s, is that capitalism is richly inventive in appropriating cultural systems to justify itself. To address the ills of contemporary society, one must deconstruct the ideologies that make excessive levels of stress, unemployment, and inequality appear unavoidable. Boltanski and Chiapello cite Durkheim’s thesis that capitalism is marred by the insatiable pursuit of self-interest, a view that resonates with the Chinese parable of the mask with no lower jaw.echnique

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Alexander Jordan

Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) is commonly remembered as the archnemesis of economics, which he notoriously dubbed “the dismal science.” This article, however, suggests that Carlyle’s ideas in fact had a considerable influence among economists during the decades following his death. Indeed, an array of economists cited Carlyle in criticizing self-interest, laissez-faire, and materialism, in suggesting that economic science ought to accord greater importance to moral and ethical factors, and in urging the “Captains of Industry” and the state to exercise paternal guidance over the working classes. In short, Carlyle’s writings shaped these economists’ understanding, portrayal, and critique of the previous generation of so-called “old” economists, as well as their self-understanding as self-professed “new” economists.

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Dialogue for Development

An Exploration of Relations between Oil and Gas Companies, Communities, and the State

Florian Stammler and Emma Wilson

This introduction provides an overview of academic research and current practice relating to stakeholder dialogue around oil and gas development in the Russian North, Siberia and the Russian Far East. We discuss the two main strands of analysis in this special issue: (a) regulation and impact assessment; and (b) relationship-building in practice, with a particular focus on indigenous communities. We argue that an effective regulatory framework, meaningful dialogue, and imaginative organization of stakeholder relations are required to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits from oil and gas projects. Self-interest, mistrust, and a lack of collective agency frequently lead to ineffective planning and heightened tensions in relations. We identify lessons to be learned from partnerships and initiatives already established in Sakhalin and Western Siberia, despite the lack of a stable legal framework to govern relations. This issue focuses on the academic-practitioner interface, emphasizing the importance of practical application of academic research and the value of non-academic contributions to academic debates.

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Taking the Road for Play

Cyclist Appropriations of Automobile Infrastructures in Vietnam

Ashley Carruthers

After declining in status and mode share sharply with the popularization of the motorcycle, cycling in Vietnam is on the rise. Urban elites who pursue sport and leisure cycling are the most visible of Vietnam’s new cyclists, and they bring their sense of social mastery out onto the road with them by appropriating the nation’s new, automobile-focused infrastructures as places for play and display. While motivated by self-interest, their informal activism around securing bicycle access to new bridges and highways potentially benefits all and contributes to making livable cities. These socially elite cyclists transcend the status associated with their means of mobility as they enact their mastery over automobile infrastructures meant to usher in a new Vietnamese automobility.

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Sonia Sikka

This paper criticises the concept of culture as deployed within debates on moral relativism, arguing for a greater appreciation of the role of power in the production of a society's purportedly 'moral' norms. The argument is developed in three stages: (1) analysis of the relation between ideology and morality, noting that the concept of morality excludes self-serving moral claims and justifications; (2) analysis of the concept of culture, drawing attention to an ambiguity in its usage and to the hierarchical social structures within which the actual bodies of cultures are produced and reproduced; and (3) contention that (1) and (2) provide the basis for a radical and socially effective species of immanent critique: the exposure of existing norms and institutions purported to be morally justified as masks for the self-interest of elite groups.

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Henry Bacon

Bioculturalist approach can be fruitfully employed to explain why fictional violence is such an integral part of both our art and entertainment. In any cultural context aggression related biological traits are controlled and shaped in order to ensure both the internal order and the security of a community. William Flesch has argued that his process is guided by the tendency to admire altruistic punishers, who without self-interest assume the task of punishing evildoers. Spectators of such actions tend to react to it emotionally, both spontaneously and via reflection, thus giving the experience both an emotional and a meta-emotional aspect. This plays an important role in relating to the ways in which resorting to violence is justified in mainstream films. This scenario has a strong emotional appeal, even if the spectator would deplore such means in real life contexts. This discrepancy emerges even more strongly in the revenge scenario, which in a fictional context can appear satisfying and empowering despite the moral qualms the spectator might have concerning the ethics of revenge. Because of the deeply ingrained cult of individuality and doubts about the efficacy of government in maintaining law and order, these narrative patterns have developed especially strongly within American popular culture. However, judging by the worldwide success of such films, their appeal is nonetheless quite universal.

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Rainer Hillebrand

This article looks critically at the widely held view that Germany has not done enough to help overcome the Eurozone crisis. According to this line of argument, Germany has refused to comprehensively bail out crisis countries, offer mutual support in order to counter speculative attacks or endorse demand-side growth policies. This is allegedly because of a more narrowly defined national self-interest, increased EU-skepticism, and hegemonic ambitions. This article takes the perspective that such criticisms are primarily rooted in a Keynesian reading of the Eurozone troubles, whereas German policies are informed by another rationale: the ideas of so-called ordoliberalism. Generally, this traditional German school emphasizes the importance of principles, rule-based behavior, and long-term goals—and it believes in the (microeconomic) functioning of markets. Consequently, ordoliberals perceive the crisis as resulting from unsustainable debt levels and a lack of competitiveness in southern Europe, concomitant with a failure of Eurozone institutions. Based on this diagnosis, policy proposals are primarily targeted at debt reduction, as well as structural and EU institutional reforms. While Germany's crisis policy thus appears rational from an ordoliberal perspective, it is considered to be at variance with, and inadequate from the viewpoint of a Keynesian approach.