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this UnCivilization started as a mailing list of few friends, in 2013.

Mailing list archives: https://lists.puscii.nl/wws/arc/uncivilization/ 
Contact: uncivilization@lists.puscii.nl 

UnCivilization topics: utopia community anarchy commons ethics technology hacking future sustainability

Inspiration: Dark Mountain Manifesto http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/ 
Documentation: https://wiki.techinc.nl/index.php/Hackers_tribes#Beyond_Civilization 

Contents

Community Wiki

If we resist

We decide together: http://democracyos.org/

We don't left anyone apart: https://snuproject.wordpress.com/

We share knowledge: https://www.wikimedia.org/

We collaborate: http://ouishare.net/en

We degrowth: https://permacultureprinciples.com/

We are one: http://integrarevolucio.net/

If we conquest

Fair economy + ReThink work + Inclusive democracy + Commons infraestructure + Public sharing + Feminism + Ecologism + Antiracism + Antifascism + Pacifism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_Party

Proposal

  1. Create a descentralized network to learn about the commons theories and practices for the self-creation of revolutionary subjects (like http://unmonastery.org/, https://www.darkwallet.is/, https://integralces.net/)
  2. Start the crowdsourcing/crowdfunding to create a media for the World Undefined Strike (could be based in Revolution Action Disobedience Integral Media Shield: http://radi.ms) A new international resistance fruit of the seeds of the arabic spring, 15m, occupy, gezi, yosoy132... would born with Coopfunding (http://coopfunding.net/)
  3. Develop the wiki and disseminate with the new media to reach everyone making growth the lists of nodes, organizations and tools for revolution and finally making it seems to Rebelión, an hispanic indymedia-like site for news (http://www.rebelion.org/)

On Integral Revolution, P2p Politics and Hacker Ethics

We could map the international independent focus of revolution around the world to found a synergia to fight the capitalism constructing a new world in our hearts. Like the international meeting in Harmonia - Barcelona, 18t-19th November 2016-, we could converge to learn about we. (http://itacappcc.cat/jornadesinternacionalistes/)

The ideologies don't have to put we appart, they have to apport and complement each other for fronting commonly the enemy. Internet let us share data that is necessary to be distribuited massively through one organ like a periodichal magazine (like dead project contrainfos public report: http://sindominio.net/zitzania/)

Also we need to found a common agenda for the World Undefined Strike (like https://titanpad.com/internationalcallXactions)

Local nodes of revolutionary transition plans

These are regions and networks that work toghether to build a society with a fair economy, feminist and ecologic realities that show us that a new world is posible now and the future of our planet depends of how we build this society in our daily.

  1. Rojava Plan wiki: http://en.wiki.rojavaplan.com/index.php?title=Main_Page
  2. Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/
  3. National Hubs and Initiatives of transition movement: https://transitionnetwork.org/transition-near-me/
  4. Greek Integral Cooperative: http://cooperativas.gr/
  5. Organització Socialista d'Alliberament Nacional: http://www.endavant.org/enllacos/
  6. Iberian Integral Cooperatives network: http://integrajkooperativoj.net/
Related publications: Rebel·leu-vos[1] / Podem[2]

International organizations

- International of Anarchist Federations: http://www.i-f-a.org/

- World Social Forum: https://fsm2016.org/en/

- League for the Fifth International: http://www.fifthinternational.org/

- NGO Global Network: http://www.ngo.org/links/

- Interoccupy: http://interoccupy.net/

- Social Network Unionism: https://snuproject.wordpress.com/

Common tools for revolution

- Radar.squat.net: https://radar.squat.net/en (global squat agenda)

- Fair.coop: https://fair.coop (cooperative for a fair economy)

- P2PValue: http://directory.p2pvalue.eu/ (commons-based peer production directory)

- TransforMap: http://transformap.co/ (green/political/regional/organic maps)

- Sharecity: http://sharecity.ie/ (sustainability of city-based food sharing)

- Interference.io: https://interference.io/wiki/doku.php?id=practical:recommended_reading (food for thought)

- Security in-a-box: https://securityinabox.org/ (tools and tactics for digital security)

- Commons Transition wiki: http://wiki.commonstransition.org/wiki/Main_Page (database for policy papers and proposals)

Revolution will not be on TV

Soundsystem army could appear in different ways of attack capitalist focus or in protests to revitalize people's humour

http://pullupparty.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SoundSystem.jpg

VIBE ATTACK 🔫

REVOLUTION - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr0L0d0rCCY [CONGO NATTY]

KUNTA KINTE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jliZ6PpUcIY [THE REVOLUTIONARIES]

WARRIOR STYLE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui_eWpVPS5c [MACKA B & MAD PROFESSOR]

CAN'T STAND IT - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6F_KjCn4Uo [WARRIOR QUEEN & MUNGO'S HIFI]

GUDARI DUB WARRIORS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HMnxC0rulk [BLACK SOULIE & ANTXON SAGARDUI]

LIKE A WARRIYAH/DUB WARRIYAH - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi4zEXGlbT4 [MAASAI WARRIOR & JOSEPH LALIBELA]

JAH SHAKA DUBKASM ZULUWARRIOR - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9RIG1t8qGw [JAH SHAKA]

GENERAL LEVY MEDLEY WITH MANU DIGITAL -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zFefXzXb1c [GENERAL LEVY & MANU DIGITAL]

http://www.nuffrespekt.cz/foto/towary/big/277fea9c777ce4df65ec876d282454c3.jpg

Inspiration

  • Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization ... , John Zerzan
  • Norbert Elias: The Civilising Process

More: https://wiki.techinc.nl/index.php/Hackers_tribes


Abstracts

anarchy

Anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of people, or a single person that rejects hierarchy. The term originally meant leaderlessness, but in 1840, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted the term in his treatise What Is Property? to refer to a new political philosophy, anarchism, which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations. In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of traditional forms of government.

community

A community is commonly considered a social unit (a group of people) who have something in common, such as norms, values, identity, and often a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a village, town, or neighborhood). Durable relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties also define a sense of community. People tend to define those social ties as important to their identity, practice, and roles in social institutions like family, home, work, government, society, or humanity, at large. Although communities are usually small relative to personal social ties (micro-level), “community” may also refer to large group affiliations (or macro-level), such as national communities, international communities, and virtual communities.

The word “community” derives from the Old French comuneté which comes from the Latin communitas (from Latin communis, things held in common).

Human communities may share intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, and risks in common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

ethics

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The term ethics derives from the Ancient Greek word ἠθικός ethikos, which is derived from the word ἦθος ethos (habit, “custom”). The branch of philosophy axiology comprises the sub-branches of ethics and aesthetics, each concerned with values.

As a branch of philosophy, ethics investigates the questions “What is the best way for people to live?” and “What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?” In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual enquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.

Three major areas of study within ethics recognised today are:

Meta-ethics, concerning the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions, and how their truth values (if any) can be determined

Normative ethics, concerning the practical means of determining a moral course of action

Applied ethics, concerning what a person is obligated (or permitted) to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action

future

The future is what will happen in the time after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the apparent nature of reality and the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and will exist can be categorized as either permanent, meaning that it will exist forever, or temporary, meaning that it will end. The future and the concept of eternity have been major subjects of philosophy, religion, and science, and defining them non-controversially has consistently eluded the greatest of minds. In the Occidental view, which uses a linear conception of time, the future is the portion of the projected time line that is anticipated to occur. In special relativity, the future is considered absolute future, or the future light cone.

In the philosophy of time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists and the future and the past are unreal. Religions consider the future when they address issues such as karma, life after death, and eschatologies that study what the end of time and the end of the world will be. Religious figures such as prophets and diviners have claimed to see into the future. Organized efforts to predict or forecast the future may have derived from observations by early man of heavenly objects.

Future studies, or futurology, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible futures. Modern practitioners stress the importance of alternative and plural futures, rather than one monolithic future, and the limitations of prediction and probability, versus the creation of possible and preferable futures.

The concept of the future has been explored extensively in cultural production, including art movements and genres devoted entirely to its elucidation, such as the 20th century movement futurism.

sustainability

In ecology, sustainability (from sustain and ability) is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture. Sustainability science is the study of sustainable development and environmental science.

Sustainability can also be defined as a socio-ecological process characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal. An ideal is by definition unattainable in a given time/space but endlessly approachable and it is this endless pursuit that forms a sustainable system in the process (ibid). Healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary to the survival of humans and other organisms. Ways of reducing negative human impact are environmentally-friendly chemical engineering, environmental resources management and environmental protection. Information is gained from green chemistry, earth science, environmental science and conservation biology. Ecological economics studies the fields of academic research that aim to address human economies and natural ecosystems.

Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy and sustainable fission and fusion power), or designing systems in a flexible and reversible manner, and adjusting individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.

“The term ‘sustainability’ should be viewed as humanity’s target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium (homeostasis), while ‘sustainable development’ refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability.” (305) Despite the increased popularity of the use of the term “sustainability”, the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light of environmental degradation, climate change, overconsumption, population growth and societies’ pursuit of indefinite economic growth in a closed system.

technology

Technology (“science of craft”, from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines, computers, devices, and factories, which can be operated by individuals without detailed knowledge of the workings of such things.

The human species’ use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. The steady progress of military technology has brought weapons of ever-increasing destructive power, from clubs to nuclear weapons.

Technology has many effects. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today’s global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth’s environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar reactionary movements criticise the pervasiveness of technology in the modern world, arguing that it harms the environment and alienates people; proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism view continued technological progress as beneficial to society and the human condition.

Until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but 21st century scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and passed their knowledge to other generations.

Programmatically Generated Summary

  • ethics ====== Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.
  • Sustainability science is the study of sustainable development and environmental science.
  • With the government in shambles, the workers and peasants took over the government of Spain and joined together to create a revolutionary militia to fight the fascists.
  • Perspectives from various disciplines ————————————- Community studies Community studies is an academic field drawing on both sociology and anthropology and the social research methods of ethnography and participant observation in the study of community.
  • Community studies is sometimes combined with other fields, i.e., “Urban and Community Studies,” “Health and Community Studies,” or “Family and Community studies.” Internet studies Internet studies is an interdisciplinary field studying the social, psychological, pedagogical, political, technical, cultural, artistic, and other dimensions of the Internet and associated information and communication technologies.
  • The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic and method of the social sciences, such as sociology, anthropology, and political science.
  • Parallel with the rise of cultural anthropology in the United States, social anthropology, in which sociality is the central concept and which focuses on the study of social statuses and roles, groups, institutions, and the relations among them—developed as an academic discipline in Britain and in France.
  • Psychology Community psychology Community psychology studies the individuals’ contexts within communities and the wider society, and the relationships of the individual to communities and society.
  • Although the subject matter and methodologies in social science differ from those in natural science or computer science, several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation originated from fields such as physics and artificial intelligence.
  • Public administrators, in contrast, need to understand community development in the context of rural and urban development, housing and economic development, and community, organizational and business development.
  • At the intersection between community development and community building are a number of programs and organizations with community development tools.
  • As a branch of philosophy, ethics investigates the questions “What is the best way for people to live?” and “What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?” In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime.
  • Meta-ethics ———– Meta-ethics asks how we understand, know about, and what we mean when we talk about what is right and what is wrong.
  • Normative ethics —————- Normative ethics is the study of ethical action.
  • Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts.
  • Traditionally, normative ethics (also known as moral theory) was the study of what makes actions right and wrong.
  • Virtue ethics Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, and is used to describe the ethics of Socrates, Aristotle, and other early Greek philosophers.
  • This is in contrast to consequentialism, in which rightness is based on the consequences of an act, and not the act by itself.
  • Role ethics Role ethics is an ethical theory based on family roles.
  • Business ethics Business ethics (also corporate ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment, including fields like Medical ethics.
  • Relational ethics Relational ethics are related to an ethics of care.
  • future ====== The future is what will happen in the time after the present.
  • In the philosophy of time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists and the future and the past are unreal.
  • Philosophy ———- In the philosophy of time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists, and the future and past are unreal.
  • Sustainability science is the study of sustainable development and environmental science.
  • Since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth and this has resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability as a part of the concept sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Components ———- Three pillars of sustainability The 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified sustainable development goals, such as economic development, social development and environmental protection.
  • Some of the best known and most widely used sustainability measures include corporate sustainability reporting, Triple Bottom Line accounting, World Sustainability Society, Circles of Sustainability, and estimates of the quality of sustainability governance for individual countries using the Environmental Sustainability Index and Environmental Performance Index.
  • It is the combination of population increase in the developing world and unsustainable consumption levels in the developed world that poses a stark challenge to sustainability.
  • Sustainable development goals —————————– The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the current harmonized set of seventeen future international development targets.
  • Management of human consumption The underlying driver of direct human impacts on the environment is human consumption.
  • Analysis of consumption patterns relates resource use to the environmental, social and economic impacts at the scale or context under investigation.
  • This altered the water cycle of rivers and lakes, affected their water quality and had a significant impact on the global water cycle.
  • The challenge for sustainability is to curb and manage Western consumption while raising the standard of living of the developing world without increasing its resource use and environmental impact.
  • Several key areas have been targeted for economic analysis and reform: the environmental effects of unconstrained economic growth; the consequences of nature being treated as an economic externality; and the possibility of an economics that takes greater account of the social and environmental consequences of market behavior.
  • Decoupling environmental degradation and economic growth Historically there has been a close correlation between economic growth and environmental degradation: as communities grow, so the environment declines.
  • In economic and environmental fields, the term decoupling is becoming increasingly used in the context of economic production and environmental quality.
  • “The relationship between human rights and human development, corporate power and environmental justice, global poverty and citizen action, suggest that responsible global citizenship is an inescapable element of what may at first glance seem to be simply matters of personal consumer and moral choice.” Peace, security, social justice Social disruptions like war, crime and corruption divert resources from areas of greatest human need, damage the capacity of societies to plan for the future, and generally threaten human well-being and the environment.
  • Poverty A major hurdle to achieve sustainability is the alleviation of poverty.
  • The term “technology” rose to prominence in the 20th century in connection with the Second Industrial Revolution.
  • Science, engineering and technology ———————————– The distinction between science, engineering, and technology is not always clear.
  • History ——- Paleolithic (2.5 Ma – 10 ka) The use of tools by early humans was partly a process of discovery and of evolution.
  • Future technology —————– Theories of technology often attempt to predict the future of technology based on the high technology and science of the time.

Algorithmic Content

anarchy

Anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of people, or a single person that rejects hierarchy. The term originally meant leaderlessness, but in 1840, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted the term in his treatise What Is Property? to refer to a new political philosophy, anarchism, which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations. In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of traditional forms of government.

Etymology

The word anarchy comes from the ancient Greek ἀναρχία (anarchia), which combines ἀ (a), “not, without” and ἀρχή (arkhi), “ruler, leader, authority.” Thus, the term refers to a person or society “without rulers” or “without leaders.”

Anarchy and political philosophy

Kant on anarchy

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant treated anarchy in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View as consisting of “Law and Freedom without Force”. Thus, for Kant, anarchy falls short of being a true civil state because the law is only an “empty recommendation” if force is not included to make this law efficacious (“legitimation” from “lex timere” = “fearing the law”). For there to be such a state, force must be included while law and freedom are maintained, a state which Kant calls republic.

Kant identified four kinds of government:

Law and freedom without force (anarchy).

Law and force without freedom (despotism).

Force without freedom and law (barbarism).

Force with freedom and law (republic).

Anarchism

Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates self-governed societies based on voluntary institutions. These are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as institutions based on non-hierarchical free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. While anti-statism is central, anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system.

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. Strains of anarchism have been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology, and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics. Some individualist anarchists are also socialists or communists while some anarcho-communists are also individualists or egoists.

Anarchism as a social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. The central tendency of anarchism as a mass social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon which nevertheless did influence the bigger currents and individualists also participated in large anarchist organizations. Some anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence (anarcho-pacifism), while others have supported the use of militant measures, including revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.

Since the 1890s, the term libertarianism has been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States. At this time, classical liberals in the United States began to describe themselves as libertarians, and it has since become necessary to distinguish their individualist and capitalist philosophy from socialist anarchism. Thus, the former is often referred to as right-wing libertarianism, or simply right-libertarianism, whereas the latter is described by the terms libertarian socialism, socialist libertarianism, left-libertarianism, and left-anarchism. Right-libertarians are divided into minarchists and anarcho-capitalists or voluntarists. Outside the Anglosphere, libertarianism generally retains its association with left-wing anarchism.

Anarchy and anthropology

Although most known societies are characterized by the presence of hierarchy or the state, anthropologists have studied many egalitarian stateless societies, including most nomadic hunter-gatherer societies and horticultural societies such as the Semai and the Piaroa. Many of these societies can be considered to be anarchic in the sense that they explicitly reject the idea of centralized political authority.

The egalitarianism typical of human hunter-gatherers is interesting when viewed in an evolutionary context. One of humanity’s two closest primate relatives, the chimpanzee, is anything but egalitarian, forming hierarchies that are dominated by alpha males. So great is the contrast with human hunter-gatherers that it is widely argued by palaeoanthropologists that resistance to being dominated was a key factor driving the development of human consciousness, language, kinship, and social organization.

In Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology anarchist anthropologist David Graeber attempts to outline areas of research that intellectuals might explore in creating a cohesive body of anarchist social theory. Graeber posits that anthropology is “particularly well positioned” as an academic discipline that can look at the gamut of human societies and organizations, to study, analyze and catalog alternative social and economic structures around the world, and most importantly, present these alternatives to the world.

In Society Against the State Pierre Clastres examines stateless societies where certain cultural practices and attitudes avert the development of hierarchy and the state. He dismisses the notion that the state is the natural outcome of the evolution of human societies.

Anarcho-primitivists base their critique of civilization partly on anthropological studies of nomadic hunter-gatherers, noting that the shift towards domestication has likely caused increases in disease, labor, inequality, warfare, and psychological disorders. Authors such as John Zerzan have argued that negative stereotypes of primitive societies (e.g. that they are typically extremely violent or impoverished) are used to justify the values of modern industrial society and to move individuals further away from more natural and equitable conditions.

Examples of state-collapse anarchy

English Civil War (1642–1651)

Anarchy was one of the issues at the Putney Debates of 1647:

Thomas Rainsborough: I shall now be a little more free and open with you than I was before. I wish we were all true-hearted, and that we did all carry ourselves with integrity. If I did mistrust you I would not use such asseverations. I think it doth go on mistrust, and things are thought too readily matters of reflection, that were never intended. For my part, as I think, you forgot something that was in my speech, and you do not only yourselves believe that some men believe that the government is never correct, but you hate all men that believe that. And, sir, to say because a man pleads that every man hath a voice by right of nature, that therefore it destroys by the same argument all property – this is to forget the Law of God. That there’s a property, the Law of God says it; else why hath God made that law, Thou shalt not steal? I am a poor man, therefore I must be oppressed: if I have no interest in the kingdom, I must suffer by all their laws be they right or wrong. Nay thus: a gentleman lives in a country and hath three or four lordships, as some men have (God knows how they got them); and when a Parliament is called he must be a Parliament-man; and it may be he sees some poor men, they live near this man, he can crush them – I have known an invasion to make sure he hath turned the poor men out of doors; and I would fain know whether the potency of rich men do not this, and so keep them under the greatest tyranny that was ever thought of in the world. And therefore I think that to that it is fully answered: God hath set down that thing as to propriety with this law of his, Thou shalt not steal. And for my part I am against any such thought, and, as for yourselves, I wish you would not make the world believe that we are for anarchy.

Oliver Cromwell: I know nothing but this, that they that are the most yielding have the greatest wisdom; but really, sir, this is not right as it should be. No man says that you have a mind to anarchy, but that the consequence of this rule tends to anarchy, must end in anarchy; for where is there any bound or limit set if you take away this limit , that men that have no interest but the interest of breathing shall have no voice in elections? Therefore I am confident on ’t, we should not be so hot one with another.

As people began to theorize about the English Civil War, “anarchy” came to be more sharply defined, albeit from differing political perspectives:

1651 – Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan) describes the natural condition of mankind as a war of all against all, where man lives a brutish existence. “For the savage people in many places of America, except the government of small families, the concord whereof dependeth on natural lust, have no government at all, and live at this day in that brutish manner.” Hobbes finds three basic causes of the conflict in this state of nature: competition, diffidence and glory, “The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation”. His first law of nature is that “every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war”. In the state of nature, “every man has a right to every thing, even to then go for one another’s body” but the second law is that, in order to secure the advantages of peace, “that a man be willing, when others are so too… to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself”. This is the beginning of contracts/covenants; performing of which is the third law of nature. “Injustice,” therefore, is failure to perform in a covenant; all else is just.

1656 – James Harrington (The Commonwealth of Oceana) uses the term to describe a situation where the people use force to impose a government on an economic base composed of either solitary land ownership (absolute monarchy), or land in the ownership of a few (mixed monarchy). He distinguishes it from commonwealth, the situation when both land ownership and governance shared by the population at large, seeing it as a temporary situation arising from an imbalance between the form of government and the form of property relations.

French Revolution (1789 - 1799)

Thomas Carlyle, Scottish essayist of the Victorian era known foremost for his widely influential work of history, The French Revolution, wrote that the French Revolution was a war against both aristocracy and anarchy:

Meanwhile, we will hate Anarchy as Death, which it is; and the things worse than Anarchy shall be hated more! Surely Peace alone is fruitful. Anarchy is destruction: a burning up, say, of Shams and Insupportabilities; but which leaves Vacancy behind. Know this also, that out of a world of Unwise nothing but an Unwisdom can be made. Arrange it, Constitution-build it, sift it through Ballot-Boxes as thou wilt, it is and remains an Unwisdom,– the new prey of new quacks and unclean things, the latter end of it slightly better than the beginning. Who can bring a wise thing out of men unwise? Not one. And so Vacancy and general Abolition having come for this France, what can Anarchy do more? Let there be Order, were it under the Soldier’s Sword; let there be Peace, that the bounty of the Heavens be not spilt; that what of Wisdom they do send us bring fruit in its season!– It remains to be seen how the quellers of Sansculottism were themselves quelled, and sacred right of Insurrection was blown away by gunpowder: wherewith this singular eventful History called French Revolution ends.

Armand II, duke of Aiguillon came before the National Assembly in 1789 and shared his views on the anarchy:

I may be permitted here to express my personal opinion. I shall no doubt not be accused of not loving liberty, but I know that not all movements of peoples lead to liberty. But I know that great anarchy quickly leads to great exhaustion and that despotism, which is a kind of rest, has almost always been the necessary result of great anarchy. It is therefore much more important than we think to end the disorder under which we suffer. If we can achieve this only through the use of force by authorities, then it would be thoughtless to keep refraining from using such force.

Armand II was later exiled because he was viewed as being opposed to the revolution’s violent tactics.

Professor Chris Bossche commented on the role of anarchy in the revolution:

In The French Revolution, the narrative of increasing anarchy undermined the narrative in which the revolutionaries were striving to create a new social order by writing a constitution.

Jamaica 1720

Sir Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica, wrote to John Robinson, the Bishop of London, in 1720:

As to the Englishmen that came as mechanics hither, very young and have now acquired good estates in Sugar Plantations and Indigo & co., of course they know no better than what maxims they learn in the Country. To be now short & plain Your Lordship will see that they have no maxims of Church and State but what are absolutely anarchical.

In the letter, Lawes goes on to complain that these “estated men now are like Jonah’s gourd” and details the humble origins of the “creolians” largely lacking an education and flouting the rules of church and state. In particular, he cites their refusal to abide by the Deficiency Act, which required slave owners to procure from England one white person for every 40 enslaved Africans, thereby hoping to expand their own estates and inhibit further English/Irish immigration. Lawes describes the government as being “anarchical, but nearest to any form of Aristocracy”. “Must the King’s good subjects at home who are as capable to begin plantations, as their Fathers, and themselves were, be excluded from their Liberty of settling Plantations in this noble Island, for ever and the King and Nation at home be deprived of so much riches, to make a few upstart Gentlemen Princes?”

The Russian Civil War (1917—1922)

During the Russian Civil War - which initially started as a confrontation between the Communists and Monarchists - on the territory of today’s Ukraine, a new force emerged, namely the Anarchist Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine led by Nestor Makhno. The Ukrainian Anarchist during the Russian Civil War (also called the “Black Army”) organized the Free Territory of Ukraine, an anarchist society, committed to resisting state authority, whether capitalist or communist. This project was cut short by the consolidation of Bolshevik power. Makhno was described by anarchist theorist Emma Goldman as “an extraordinary figure” leading a revolutionary peasants’ movement. During 1918, most of Ukraine was controlled by the forces of the Central Powers, which were unpopular among the people. In March 1918, the young anarchist Makhno’s forces and allied anarchist and guerrilla groups won victories against German, Austrian, and Ukrainian nationalist (the army of Symon Petlura) forces, and units of the White Army, capturing a lot of German and Austro-Hungarian arms. These victories over much larger enemy forces established Makhno’s reputation as a military tactician; he became known as Batko (‘Father’) to his admirers.

At this point, the emphasis on military campaigns that Makhno had adopted in the previous year shifted to political concerns. The first Congress of the Confederation of Anarchists Groups, under the name of Nabat (“the Alarm Drum”), issued five main principles: rejection of all political parties, rejection of all forms of dictatorships (including the dictatorship of the proletariat, viewed by Makhnovists and many anarchists of the day as a term synonymous with the dictatorship of the Bolshevik communist party), negation of any concept of a central state, rejection of a so-called “transitional period” necessitating a temporary dictatorship of the proletariat, and self-management of all workers through free local workers’ councils (soviets). While the Bolsheviks argued that their concept of dictatorship of the proletariat meant precisely “rule by workers’ councils”, the Makhnovist platform opposed the “temporary” Bolshevik measure of “party dictatorship”. The Nabat was by no means a puppet of Mahkno and his supporters, from time to time criticizing the Black Army and its conduct in the war.

In 1918, after recruiting large numbers of Ukrainian peasants, as well as numbers of Jews, anarchists, naletchki, and recruits arriving from other countries, Makhno formed the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, otherwise known as the Anarchist Black Army. At its formation, the Black Army consisted of about 15,000 armed troops, including infantry and cavalry (both regular and irregular) brigades; artillery detachments were incorporated into each regiment. From November 1918 to June 1919, using the Black Army to secure its hold on power, the Makhnovists attempted to create an anarchist society in Ukraine, administered at the local level by autonomous peasants’ and workers’ councils.

The agricultural part of these villages was composed of peasants, someone understood at the same time peasants and workers. They were founded first of all on equality and solidarity of his members. All, men and women, worked together with a perfect conscience that they should work on fields or that they should be used in housework… Working program was established in meetings where all participated. They knew then exactly what they had to make.

Makhno called the Bolsheviks dictators and opposed the “Cheka [secret police]… and similar compulsory authoritative and disciplinary institutions” and called for “[f]reedom of speech, press, assembly, unions and the like”. The Bolsheviks accused the Makhnovists of imposing a formal government over the area they controlled, and also said that Makhnovists used forced conscription, committed summary executions, and had two military and counter-intelligence forces: the Razvedka and the Kommissiya Protivmakhnovskikh Del (patterned after the Cheka and the GRU). However, later historians have dismissed these claims as fraudulent propaganda.

The Bolsheviks claimed that it would be impossible for a small, agricultural society to organize into an anarchist society so quickly. However, Eastern Ukraine had a large amount of coal mines, and was one of the most industrialised parts of the Russian Empire.

Spain 1936

In 1919, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), the Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, had grown to 1 million members, and encountered many fights with the police and the fascists in Spain. On July 18, 1936, General Franco led the army to launch their fight against the government, but instead of an easy victory they faced significant obstacles. They were met with a big resistance from the people, and the rebels were supported by military and the police. With the government in shambles, the workers and peasants took over the government of Spain and joined together to create a revolutionary militia to fight the fascists. The workers and peasants were fighting to start a revolution, not to help save their government. Spain’s society was transposed by a social revolution. Every business was re-organized to have a company with no bosses; surprisingly profits increased by over half. While Stalin wanted to send arms but only on one condition: The party must be given government positions and the militias be “re-organized.” On May 2, 1937, the CNT issued a warning:

The guarantee of the revolution is the proletariat in arms. To attempt to disarm the people is to place oneself on the wrong side of the barricades. No councillor or police commissioner, no matter who he is, can order the disarming of the workers, who are fighting fascism with more self-sacrifice than all the politicians in the rear, whose incapacity and impotence everybody knows. Do not, on any account, allow yourselves to be disarmed!

On the next day after the warning was issued the CNT’s central exchange was attacked and the militias prepared to quit, in front of Barcelona. With this became a power struggle, and confusion which lead the workers to cease fire and lay down their weapons. The “re-organized” Republican Army tried one last attempt to gain control, with over 70,000 casualties, and many people fleeing to France, General Franco’s army entered Barcelona on January 26, 1939 to end the revolution.

Albania 1997

In 1997, Albania fell into a state of anarchy, mainly due to the heavy losses of money caused by the collapse of pyramid firms. As a result of the societal collapse, heavily-armed criminals roamed freely with near total impunity. There were often 3-4 gangs per city, especially in the south, where the police did not have sufficient resources to deal with gang-related crime.

Somalia 1991–2006

Following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia and the ensuing collapse of the central government, residents reverted to local forms of conflict resolution; either secular, traditional or Islamic law, with a provision for appeal of all sentences. The legal structure in the country was thus divided along three lines: civil law, religious law and customary law (xeer).

While Somalia’s formal judicial system was largely destroyed after the fall of the Siad Barre regime, it was later gradually rebuilt and administered under different regional governments, such as the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland macro-regions. In the case of the Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government, new interim judicial structures were formed through various international conferences.

Despite some significant political differences between them, all of these administrations shared similar legal structures, much of which were predicated on the judicial systems of previous Somali administrations. These similarities in civil law included: a) a charter which affirms the primacy of Muslim shari’a or religious law, although in practice shari’a is applied mainly to matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and civil issues. The charter assured the independence of the judiciary, which in turn was protected by a judicial committee; b) a three-tier judicial system including a supreme court, a court of appeals, and courts of first instance (either divided between district and regional courts, or a single court per region); and c) the laws of the civilian government which were in effect prior to the military coup d’état that saw the Barre regime into power remain in forced until the laws are amended.

Lists of ungoverned communities

Ungoverned communities

Zomia, Southeast Asian highlands beyond control of governments

Icelandic Commonwealth (930–1262 CE)

Republic of Cospaia (1440-1826)

Anarchy in the United States (19th century)

The Diggers (England, 1649–1651)

Libertatia (late 17th century)

Neutral Moresnet (June 26, 1816 – June 28, 1919)

Kibbutz, a community movement in Israel initially influenced by anarchist philosophy (Palestine, 1909–1948)

Kowloon Walled City was a largely ungoverned squatter settlement from the mid 1940s until the early 1970s

Drop City, the first rural hippie commune (Colorado 1965–1977)

Comunidad de Población en Resistencia (CPR), indigenous movement (Guatemala, 1988–)

Slab City, squatted RV desert community (California 1965-)

The 27 Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities (January 1, 1994 – present)

Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African social movement (2005–)

Anarchist communities

Anarchists have been involved in a wide variety of communities. While there are only a few instances of mass society “anarchies” that have come about from explicitly anarchist revolutions, there are also examples of intentional communities founded by anarchists.

Intentional communities

Utopia, Ohio (1847)

Whiteway Colony (1898)

Life and Labor Commune (1921)

Freetown Christiania (September 26, 1971)

Trumbullplex (1993)

Mass societies

Free Territory (Ukraine, November 1918 – 1921)

Anarchist Catalonia (July 21, 1936 – May 1939)

Autonomous Shinmin Region (1929–1932)

See also

Anomie

Outline of anarchism

Unorganization

List of anarchist organizations

Criticisms of electoral politics

References

External links

The dictionary definition of anarchy at Wiktionary

Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

On the Steppes of Central Asia, by Matt Stone. Online version of book, hosted by Anarchism.net.

Who Needs Government? Pirates, Collapsed States, and the Possibility of Anarchy, August 2007 issue of Cato Unbound focusing on Somali anarchy.

“Historical Examples of Anarchy without Chaos”, a list of essays hosted by royhalliday.home.mingspring.com.

“www.anarchyisorder.org, online @n@rchive” Principles, propositions & discussions for Land and Freedom

Brandon’s Anarchy Page, classic essays and modern discussions. Online since 1994.

Anarchism Collection From the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress

community

A community is commonly considered a social unit (a group of people) who have something in common, such as norms, values, identity, and often a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a village, town, or neighborhood). Durable relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties also define a sense of community. People tend to define those social ties as important to their identity, practice, and roles in social institutions like family, home, work, government, society, or humanity, at large. Although communities are usually small relative to personal social ties (micro-level), “community” may also refer to large group affiliations (or macro-level), such as national communities, international communities, and virtual communities.

The word “community” derives from the Old French comuneté which comes from the Latin communitas (from Latin communis, things held in common).

Human communities may share intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, and risks in common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

Perspectives from various disciplines

Community studies

Community studies is an academic field drawing on both sociology and anthropology and the social research methods of ethnography and participant observation in the study of community. In academic settings around the world, community studies is variously a sub-discipline of anthropology or sociology, or an independent discipline. It is often interdisciplinary and geared toward practical applications rather than purely theoretical perspectives. Community studies is sometimes combined with other fields, i.e., “Urban and Community Studies,” “Health and Community Studies,” or “Family and Community studies.”

Internet studies

Internet studies is an interdisciplinary field studying the social, psychological, pedagogical, political, technical, cultural, artistic, and other dimensions of the Internet and associated information and communication technologies. While studies of the Internet are now widespread across academic disciplines, there is a growing collaboration among these investigations. In recent years, Internet studies have become institutionalized as courses of study at several institutions of higher learning, including the University of Oxford, Curtin University of Technology, Brandeis University, Endicott College, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Appalachian State University and the University of Minnesota. Cognates are found in departments of a number of other names, including departments of “digital culture”, “new media” or “convergent media”, various “iSchools”, or programs like “Media in Transition” at MIT. On the research side, Internet studies intersects with studies of cyberculture, human–computer interaction, and science and technology studies. A number of academic journals are central to communicating research in the field, including Bad Subjects, Convergence: The Journal of Research into New media Technologies, Ctheory, Cyber Psychology + Behaviour, Computers in Human Behavior, First Monday, Information, Communication, and Society, The Information Society, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, M/C, New Media & Society, tripleC: Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, Fibreculture Journal, and TeknoKultura, but research relating to internet studies appears in a diverse range of venues and disciplines.

Philosophy of social science

Urban sociologists contest the significance of place in shaping community. The anonymity and impersonal characterizing life in modern city spaces tend to be devoid of the collective connectedness associated with the idea of “community”.

The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic and method of the social sciences, such as sociology, anthropology, and political science. Philosophers of social science are concerned with the differences and similarities between the social and the natural sciences, causal relationships between social phenomena, the possible existence of social laws, and the ontological significance of structure and agency.

Anthropology

Cultural anthropology

Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans and is in contrast to social anthropology which perceives cultural variation as a subset of the anthropological constant.

A variety of methods are part of anthropological methodology, including participant observation (often called fieldwork because it involves the anthropologist spending an extended period of time at the research location), interviews, and surveys.

One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term “culture” came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1897 book: “Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” The term “civilization” later gave way to definitions by V. Gordon Childe, with culture forming an umbrella term and civilization becoming a particular kind of culture.

The anthropological concept of “culture” reflects in part a reaction against earlier Western discourses based on an opposition between “culture” and “nature”, according to which some human beings lived in a “state of nature”. Anthropologists have argued that culture is “human nature”, and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically (i.e. in language), and teach such abstractions to others.

Since humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, people living in different places or different circumstances develop different cultures. Anthropologists have also pointed out that through culture people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will often have different cultures. Much of anthropological theory has originated in an appreciation of and interest in the tension between the local (particular cultures) and the global (a universal human nature, or the web of connections between people in distinct places/circumstances).

The rise of cultural anthropology occurred within the context of the late 19th century, when questions regarding which cultures were “primitive” and which were “civilized” occupied the minds of not only Marx and Freud, but many others. Colonialism and its processes increasingly brought European thinkers in contact, directly or indirectly with “primitive others.” The relative status of various humans, some of whom had modern advanced technologies that included engines and telegraphs, while others lacked anything but face-to-face communication techniques and still lived a Paleolithic lifestyle, was of interest to the first generation of cultural anthropologists.

Parallel with the rise of cultural anthropology in the United States, social anthropology, in which sociality is the central concept and which focuses on the study of social statuses and roles, groups, institutions, and the relations among them—developed as an academic discipline in Britain and in France. An umbrella term socio-cultural anthropology makes reference to both cultural and social anthropology traditions.

Archaeology

In archaeological studies of social communities the term “community” is used in two ways, paralleling usage in other areas. The first is an informal definition of community as a place where people used to live. In this sense it is synonymous with the concept of an ancient settlement, whether a hamlet, village, town, or city. The second meaning is similar to the usage of the term in other social sciences: a community is a group of people living near one another who interact socially. Social interaction on a small scale can be difficult to identify with archaeological data. Most reconstructions of social communities by archaeologists rely on the principle that social interaction is conditioned by physical distance. Therefore, a small village settlement likely constituted a social community, and spatial subdivisions of cities and other large settlements may have formed communities. Archaeologists typically use similarities in material culture—from house types to styles of pottery—to reconstruct communities in the past. This is based on the assumption that people or households will share more similarities in the types and styles of their material goods with other members of a social community than they will with outsiders.

Ecology

In ecology, a community is an assemblage of populations of different species, interacting with one another. Community ecology is the branch of ecology that studies interactions between and among species. It considers how such interactions, along with interactions between species and the abiotic environment, affect community structure and species richness, diversity and patterns of abundance. Species interact in three ways: competition, predation and mutualism. Competition typically results in a double negative—that is both species lose in the interaction. Predation is a win/lose situation with one species winning. Mutualism, on the other hand, involves both species cooperating in some way, with both winning.

Psychology

Community psychology

Community psychology studies the individuals’ contexts within communities and the wider society, and the relationships of the individual to communities and society. Community psychologists seek to understand the quality of life of individuals, communities, and society. Their aim is to enhance quality of life through collaborative research and action.

Community psychology employs various perspectives within and outside of psychology to address issues of communities, the relationships within them, and related people’s attitudes and behaviour.

Rappaport (1977) discusses the perspective of community psychology as an ecological perspective on the person–environment fit (this is often related to work environments) being the focus of study and action instead of attempting to change the personality of individual or the environment when an individual is seen as having a problem.

Closely related disciplines include ecological psychology, environmental psychology, cross-cultural psychology, social psychology, political science, public health, sociology, social work, applied anthropology, and community development.

Community psychology grew out of the community mental health movement, but evolved dramatically as early practitioners incorporated their understandings of political structures and other community contexts into perspectives on client services.

Sociology

Computational sociology

Computational sociology is a branch of sociology that uses computationally intensive methods to analyze and model social phenomena. Using computer simulations, artificial intelligence, complex statistical methods, and analytic approaches like social network analysis, computational sociology develops and tests theories of complex social processes through bottom-up modeling of social interactions.

It involves the understanding of social agents, the interaction among these agents, and the effect of these interactions on the social aggregate. Although the subject matter and methodologies in social science differ from those in natural science or computer science, several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation originated from fields such as physics and artificial intelligence. Some of the approaches that originated in this field have been imported into the natural sciences, such as measures of network centrality from the fields of social network analysis and network science.

In relevant literature, computational sociology is often related to the study of social complexity. Social complexity concepts such as complex systems, non-linear interconnection among macro and micro process, and emergence, have entered the vocabulary of computational sociology. A practical and well-known example is the construction of a computational model in the form of an “artificial society,” by which researchers can analyze the structure of a social system.

Social capital

Social capital is a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central, transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust, and cooperation, and market agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for a common good.

The term generally refers to (a) resources, and the value of these resources, both tangible (public spaces, private property) and intangible (“actors”, “human capital”, people), (b) the relationships among these resources, and (c) the impact that these relationships have on the resources involved in each relationship, and on larger groups. It is generally seen as a form of capital that produces public goods for a common good.

Social capital has been used to explain the improved performance of diverse groups, the growth of entrepreneurial firms, superior managerial performance, enhanced supply chain relations, the value derived from strategic alliances, and the evolution of communities.

Key concepts

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

In Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887), German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies described two types of human association: Gemeinschaft (usually translated as “community”) and Gesellschaft (“society” or “association”). Tönnies proposed the Gemeinschaft–Gesellschaft dichotomy as a way to think about social ties. No group is exclusively one or the other. Gemeinschaft stress personal social interactions, and the roles, values, and beliefs based on such interactions. Gesellschaft stress indirect interactions, impersonal roles, formal values, and beliefs based on such interactions.

Internet communities

Groups of people are complex, in ways that make those groups hard to form and hard to sustain; much of the shape of traditional institutions is a response to those difficulties. New social tools relieve some of those burdens, allowing for new kinds of group-forming, like using simple sharing to anchor the creation of new groups.

One simple form of cooperation, almost universal with social tools, is conversation; when people are in one another’s company, even virtually, they like to talk. Conversation creates more of a sense of community than sharing does.

Collaborative production is a more involved form of cooperation, as it increases the tension between individual and group goals. The litmus test for collaborative production is simple: no one person can take credit for what gets created, and the project could not come into being without the participation of many.

An online community builds weaker bonds and allows users to be anonymous. Clay Shirky, a researcher on digital media, states in reference to the audience of an online community, “An audience isn’t just a big community; it can be more anonymous, with many fewer ties among users. A community isn’t just a small audience either; it has a social density that audiences lack.” The sites that offer online communities, like Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest allow users to “stalk” their community and act anonymously.

Organizational communication

Effective communication practices in group and organizational settings are very important to the formation and maintenance of communities. The ways that ideas and values are communicated within communities are important to the induction of new members, the formulation of agendas, the selection of leaders and many other aspects. Organizational communication is the study of how people communicate within an organizational context and the influences and interactions within organizational structures. Group members depend on the flow of communication to establish their own identity within these structures and learn to function in the group setting. Although organizational communication, as a field of study, is usually geared toward companies and business groups, these may also be seen as communities. The principles of organizational communication can also be applied to other types of communities.

Public administration

Public administration is the province of local, state and federal governments, with local governments responsible for units in towns, cities, villages, and counties, among others. The most well known “community department” is housing and community development which has responsibility for both economic development initiatives, and as public housing and community infrastructure (e.g., business development).

Sense of community

In a seminal 1986 study, McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of “sense of community”:

membership,

influence,

integration and fulfillment of needs,

shared emotional connection.

They give the following example of the interplay between these factors:

Someone puts an announcement on the dormitory bulletin board about the formation of an intramural dormitory basketball team. People attend the organizational meeting as strangers out of their individual needs (integration and fulfillment of needs). The team is bound by place of residence (membership boundaries are set) and spends time together in practice (the contact hypothesis). They play a game and win (successful shared valent event). While playing, members exert energy on behalf of the team (personal investment in the group). As the team continues to win, team members become recognized and congratulated (gaining honor and status for being members), Influencing new members to join and continue to do the same. Someone suggests that they all buy matching shirts and shoes (common symbols) and they do so (influence).

A Sense of Community Index (SCI) has been developed by Chavis and colleagues and revised and adapted by others. Although originally designed to assess sense of community in neighborhoods, the index has been adapted for use in schools, the workplace, and a variety of types of communities.

Studies conducted by the APPA show substantial evidence that young adults who feel a sense of belonging in a community, particularly small communities, develop fewer psychiatric and depressive disorders than those who do not have the feeling of love and belonging.

Socialization

The process of learning to adopt the behavior patterns of the community is called socialization. The most fertile time of socialization is usually the early stages of life, during which individuals develop the skills and knowledge and learn the roles necessary to function within their culture and social environment. For some psychologists, especially those in the psychodynamic tradition, the most important period of socialization is between the ages of one and ten. But socialization also includes adults moving into a significantly different environment, where they must learn a new set of behaviors.

Socialization is influenced primarily by the family, through which children first learn community norms. Other important influences include schools, peer groups, people, mass media, the workplace, and government. The degree to which the norms of a particular society or community are adopted determines one’s willingness to engage with others. The norms of tolerance, reciprocity, and trust are important “habits of the heart,” as de Tocqueville put it, in an individual’s involvement in community.

Community development

Community development is often linked with community work or community planning, and may involve stakeholders, foundations, governments, or contracted entities including non-government organisations (NGOs), universities or government agencies to progress the social well-being of local, regional and, sometimes, national communities. More grassroots efforts, called community building or community organizing, seek to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. These skills often assist in building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda. Community development practitioners must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities’ positions within the context of larger social institutions. Public administrators, in contrast, need to understand community development in the context of rural and urban development, housing and economic development, and community, organizational and business development.

Formal accredited programs conducted by universities, as part of degree granting institutions, are often used to build a knowledge base to drive curricula in public administration, sociology and community studies. The General Social Survey from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and the Saguaro Seminar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University are examples of national community development in the United States. The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York State offers core courses in community and economic development, and in areas ranging from non-profit development to US budgeting (federal to local, community funds). In the United Kingdom, Oxford University has led in providing extensive research in the field through its Community Development Journal, used worldwide by sociologists and community development practitioners.

At the intersection between community development and community building are a number of programs and organizations with community development tools. One example of this is the program of the Asset Based Community Development Institute of Northwestern University. The institute makes available downloadable tools to assess community assets and make connections between non-profit groups and other organizations that can help in community building. The Institute focuses on helping communities develop by “mobilizing neighborhood assets” — building from the inside out rather than the outside in. In the disability field, community building was prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s with roots in John McKnight’s approaches.

Community building and organizing

In The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace, Scott Peck argues that the almost accidental sense of community that exists at times of crisis can be consciously built. Peck believes that conscious community building is a process of deliberate design based on the knowledge and application of certain rules. He states that this process goes through four stages:

Pseudocommunity: The beginning stage when people first come together. This is the stage where people try to be nice, and present what they feel are their most personable and friendly characteristics.

Chaos: When people move beyond the inauthenticity of pseudo-community and feel safe enough to present their “shadow” selves. This stage places great demands upon the facilitator for greater leadership and organization, but Peck believes that “organizations are not communities”, and this pressure should be resisted.

Emptiness: This stage moves beyond the attempts to fix, heal and convert of the chaos stage, when all people become capable of acknowledging their own woundedness and brokenness, common to us all as human beings. Out of this emptiness comes…

True community: the process of deep respect and true listening for the needs of the other people in this community. This stage Peck believes can only be described as “glory” and reflects a deep yearning in every human soul for compassionate understanding from one’s fellows.

More recently Peck remarked that building a sense of community is easy but maintaining this sense of community is difficult in the modern world. Community building can use a wide variety of practices, ranging from simple events such as potlucks and small book clubs to larger-scale efforts such as mass festivals and construction projects that involve local participants rather than outside contractors.

Community building that is geared toward citizen action is usually termed “community organizing.” In these cases, organized community groups seek accountability from elected officials and increased direct representation within decision-making bodies. Where good-faith negotiations fail, these constituency-led organizations seek to pressure the decision-makers through a variety of means, including picketing, boycotting, sit-ins, petitioning, and electoral politics. The ARISE Detroit! coalition and the Toronto Public Space Committee are examples of activist networks committed to shielding local communities from government and corporate domination and inordinate influence.

Community organizing is sometimes focused on more than just resolving specific issues. Organizing often means building a widely accessible power structure, often with the end goal of distributing power equally throughout the community. Community organizers generally seek to build groups that are open and democratic in governance. Such groups facilitate and encourage consensus decision-making with a focus on the general health of the community rather than a specific interest group. The three basic types of community organizing are grassroots organizing, coalition building, and “institution-based community organizing,” (also called “broad-based community organizing,” an example of which is faith-based community organizing, or Congregation-based Community Organizing).

If communities are developed based on something they share in common, whether that be location or values, then one challenge for developing communities is how to incorporate individuality and differences. Indeed, as Rebekah Nathan suggests in her book, My Freshman Year, we are actually drawn to developing communities totally based on sameness, despite stated commitments to diversity, such as those found on university websites. Nathan states that certain commonalities allow college students to cohere: “What holds students together, really, is age, pop culture, a handful of (recent) historical events, and getting a degree” (qtd. In Barrios 229). Universities may try to create community through all freshman reads, freshman seminars, and school pride; however, Nathan argues students will only form communities based on the attributes, such as age and pop culture, that they bring with them to college. Nathan’s point, then, is that people come to college and don’t expand their social horizons and cultural tolerance, which can prevent the development of your social community. (Barrios, Barclay. Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers. New York: Bedford St. Martins, 2010.)

Community currencies

Some communities have developed their own “Local Exchange Trading Systems” (LETS) and local currencies, such as the Ithaca Hours system, to encourage economic growth and an enhanced sense of community. Community currencies have recently proven valuable in meeting the needs of people living in various South American nations, particularly Argentina, that recently suffered as a result of the collapse of the Argentinian national currency.

Community services

Community services is a term that refers to a wide range of community institutions, governmental and non-governmental services, voluntary, third sector organizations, and grassroots and neighborhood efforts in local communities, towns, cities, and suburban-exurban areas. In line with governmental and community thinking, volunteering and unpaid services are often preferred (e.g., altruism, beneficence) to large and continued investments in infrastructure and community services personnel, with private-public partnerships often common.

Non-profit organizations from youth services, to family and neighborhood centers, recreation facilities, civic clubs, and employment, housing and poverty agencies are often the foundation of community services programs, but it may also be undertaken under the auspices of government (which funds all NGOs), one or more businesses, or by individuals or newly formed collaboratives. Community services is also the broad term given to health and human services in local communities and was specifically used as the framework for deinstitutionalization and community integration to homes, families and local communities (e.g., community residential services).

In a broad discussion of community services, schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation and criminal justice institutions also view themselves as community planners and decisionmakers together with governmental leadership (e.g., city and county offices, state-regional offices). However, while many community services are voluntary, some may be part of alternative sentencing approaches in a justice system and it can be required by educational institutions as part of internships, employment training, and post-graduation plans.

Community services may be paid for through different revenue streams which include targeted federal funds, taxpayer contributions, state and local grants and contracts, voluntary donations, Medicaid or health care funds, community development block grants, targeted education funds, and so forth. In the 2000s, the business sector began to contract with government, and also consult on government policies, and has shifted the framework of community services to the for-profit domains.

However, by the 1990s, the call was to return to community and to go beyond community services to belonging, relationships, community building and welcoming new population groups and diversity in community life.

Bangladesh Community

Is a rapidly expanding and extending community in Canada with its professionals, students and families. In Alberta, Bangladesh Heritage and Ethnic Society (BHESA), a not-for-profit socio-cultural & heritage association known to lead to greater understanding of culture and heritage of Bangladesh, and characterized by planning, action and mobilization of community, the promotion of multicultural changes and, ultimately, influence within larger systems. Through establishing its link to the larger or more extended communities with national, international, and virtual community. ^BHESA celebrates Bangladesh culture, ^MJMF supports Bangladeshi and Canadian Youth, ^International Mother Language Day Celebration 2015, BHESA,MJMF,

Types of community

A number of ways to categorize types of community have been proposed. One such breakdown is as follows:

Location-based communities: range from the local neighbourhood, suburb, village, town or city, region, nation or even the planet as a whole. These are also called communities of place.

Identity-based communities: range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic group, religious, multicultural or pluralistic civilisation, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included as communities of need or identity, such as disabled persons, or frail aged people.

Organizationally based communities: range from communities organized informally around family or network-based guilds and associations to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national or international scale.

The usual categorizations of community relations have a number of problems: 1. they tend to give the impression that a particular community can be defined as just this kind or another; 2. they tend to conflate modern and customary community relations; 3. they tend to take sociological categories such as ethnicity or race as given, forgetting that different ethnically defined persons live in different kinds of communities — grounded, interest-based, diasporic, etc.

In response to these problems, Paul James and his colleagues have developed a taxonomy that maps community relations, and recognizes that actual communities can be characterized by different kinds of relations at the same time:

  1. Grounded community relations This involves enduring attachment to particular places and particular people. It is the dominant form taken by customary and tribal communities. In these kinds of communities, the land is fundamental to identity.
  2. Life-style community relations This involves giving give primacy to communities coming together around particular chosen ways of life, such as morally charged or interest-based relations or just living or working in the same location. Hence the following sub-forms:

community-life as morally bounded, a form taken by many traditional faith-based communities.

community-life as interest-based, including sporting, leisure-based and business communities which come together for regular moments of engagement.

community-life as proximately-related, where neighbourhood or commonality of association forms a community of convenience, or a community of place (see below).

  1. Projected community relations

This is where a community is self-consciously treated as an entity to be projected and re-created. It can be projected as through thin advertising slogan, for example gated community, or can take the form of ongoing associations of people who seek political integration, communities of practice based on professional projects, associative communities which seek to enhance and support individual creativity, autonomy and mutuality. A nation is one of the largest forms of projected or imagined community.

In these terms, communities can be nested and/or intersecting; one community can contain another—for example a location-based community may contain a number of ethnic communities. Both lists above can used in a cross-cutting matrix in relation to each other.

Location

Possibly the most common usage of the word “community” indicates a large group living in close proximity. Examples of local community include:

A municipality is an administrative local area generally composed of a clearly defined territory and commonly referring to a town or village.

Although large cities are also municipalities, they are often thought of as a collection of communities, due to their diversity.

A neighborhood is a geographically localized community, often within a larger city or suburb.

A planned community is one that was designed from scratch and expanded more or less following the plan. Several of the world’s capital cities are planned cities, notably Washington, D.C., in the United States, Canberra in Australia, and Brasília in Brazil. It was also common during the European colonization of the Americas to build according to a plan either on fresh ground or on the ruins of earlier Amerindian cities. Community service is a free service.

Identity

In some contexts, “community” indicates a group of people with a common identity other than location. Members often interact regularly. Common examples in everyday usage include:

A “professional community” is a group of people with the same or related occupations. Some of those members may join a professional society, making a more defined and formalized group. These are also sometimes known as communities of practice.

A virtual community is a group of people primarily or initially communicating or interacting with each other by means of information technologies, typically over the Internet, rather than in person. These may be either communities of interest, practice or communion. Research interest is evolving in the motivations for contributing to online communities.

These communities are key to our modern day society, because we have the ability to share information with millions in a matter of seconds.

Overlaps

Some communities share both location and other attributes. Members choose to live near each other because of one or more common interests.

A retirement community is designated and at least usually designed for retirees and seniors—often restricted to those over a certain age, such as 56. It differs from a retirement home, which is a single building or small complex, by having a number of autonomous households.

An intentional community is a deliberate residential community with a much higher degree of social communication than other communities. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political or spiritual vision and share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include Amish villages, ashrams, cohousing, communes, ecovillages, housing cooperatives, kibbutzim, and land trusts.

Special nature of human community

Definitions of community as “organisms inhabiting a common environment and interacting with one another,” while scientifically accurate, do not convey the richness, diversity and complexity of human communities. Their classification, likewise is almost never precise. Untidy as it may be, community is vital for humans. M. Scott Peck expresses this in the following way: “There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”

See also

Circles of Sustainability

Communitarianism

Community – Wikipedia book

Community theatre

Engaged theory

Outline of community

Sociology

Wikipedia community

Community integration

Public administration

Notes

References

Barzilai, Gad. 2003. Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Beck, U. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage

— 2000. What is globalization? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Canuto, Marcello A. and Jason Yaeger, eds. (2000) The Archaeology of Communities. Routledge, New York.

Chavis, D.M., Hogge, J.H., McMillan, D.W., & Wandersman, A. 1986. “Sense of community through Brunswick’s lens: A first look.” Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 24-40.

Chipuer, H. M., & Pretty, G. M. H. (1999). A review of the Sense of Community Index: Current uses, factor structure, reliability, and further development. Journal of Community Psychology, 27(6), 643-658.

Christensen, K., et al. (2003). Encyclopedia of Community. 4 volumes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cohen, A. P. 1985. The Symbolic Construction of Community. Routledge: New York.

Durkheim, Émile. 1950 [1895] The Rules of Sociological Method. Translated by S. A. Solovay and J. H. Mueller. New York: The Free Press.

Cox, F., J. Erlich, J. Rothman, and J. Tropman. 1970. Strategies of Community Organization: A Book of Readings. Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacock Publishers.

Effland, R. 1998. The Cultural Evolution of Civilizations Mesa Community College.

Giddens, A. 1999. “Risk and Responsibility” Modern Law Review 62(1): 1-10.

James, Paul (1996). Nation Formation: Towards a Theory of Abstract Community. London: Sage Publications.

James, Paul (2006). Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism: Bringing Theory Back In —Volume 2 of Towards a Theory of Abstract Community. London: Sage Publications.

James, Paul; Nadarajah, Yaso; Haive, Karen; Stead, Victoria (2012). Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Development: Other Paths for Papua New Guinea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Lenski, G. 1974. Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Long, D.A., & Perkins, D.D. (2003). Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Sense of Community Index and Development of a Brief SCI. Journal of Community Psychology, 31, 279-296.

McMillan, D.W., & Chavis, D.M. 1986. “Sense of community: A definition and theory.” American Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 6-23.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. La Communauté désœuvrée - philosophical questioning of the concept of community and the possibility of encountering a non-subjective concept of it

Muegge, Steven (2013). “Platforms, communities and business ecosystems: Lessons learned about entrepreneurship in an interconnected world”. Technology Innovation Management Review (February): 5–15.

Newman, D. 2005. Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life, Chapter 5. “Building Identity: Socialization” Pine Forge Press. Retrieved: 2006-08-05.

Peck, M.S. 1987. The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84858-9

Perkins, D.D., Florin, P., Rich, R.C., Wandersman, A. & Chavis, D.M. (1990). Participation and the social and physical environment of residential blocks: Crime and community context. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 83-115.

Putnam, R. D. 2000. Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster

Sarason, S.B. 1974. The psychological sense of community: Prospects for a community psychology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

— 1986. “Commentary: The emergence of a conceptual center.” Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 405-407.

Smith, M. K. 2001. Community. Encyclopedia of informal education. Last updated: January 28, 2005. Retrieved: 2006-07-15.

Tönnies, F. 1887. Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, Leipzig: Fues’s Verlag, 2nd ed. 1912, 8th edition, Leipzig: Buske, 1935; translated in 1957 as Community and Society. ISBN 0-88738-750-0

ethics

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The term ethics derives from the Ancient Greek word ἠθικός ethikos, which is derived from the word ἦθος ethos (habit, “custom”). The branch of philosophy axiology comprises the sub-branches of ethics and aesthetics, each concerned with values.

As a branch of philosophy, ethics investigates the questions “What is the best way for people to live?” and “What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?” In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual enquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.

Three major areas of study within ethics recognised today are:

Meta-ethics, concerning the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions, and how their truth values (if any) can be determined

Normative ethics, concerning the practical means of determining a moral course of action

Applied ethics, concerning what a person is obligated (or permitted) to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action

Defining ethics

Rushworth Kidder states that “standard definitions of ethics have typically included such phrases as ‘the science of the ideal human character’ or ‘the science of moral duty’”. Richard William Paul and Linda Elder define ethics as “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures”. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy states that the word ethics is “commonly used interchangeably with ‘morality’ … and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group or individual.” Paul and Elder state that most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs and the law and don’t treat ethics as a stand-alone concept.

The word “ethics” in English refers to several things. It can refer to philosophical ethics or moral philosophy—a project that attempts to use reason in order to answer various kinds of ethical questions. As the English philosopher Bernard Williams writes, attempting to explain moral philosophy: “What makes an inquiry a philosophical one is reflective generality and a style of argument that claims to be rationally persuasive.” And Williams describes the content of this area of inquiry as addressing the very broad question, “how one should live” Ethics can also refer to a common human ability to think about ethical problems that is not particular to philosophy. As bioethicist Larry Churchill has written: “Ethics, understood as the capacity to think critically about moral values and direct our actions in terms of such values, is a generic human capacity.” Ethics can also be used to describe a particular person’s own idiosyncratic principles or habits. For example: “Joe has strange ethics.”

The English word ethics is derived from an Ancient Greek word êthikos, which means “relating to one’s character”. The Ancient Greek adjective êthikos is itself derived from another Greek word, the noun êthos meaning “character, disposition”.

Meta-ethics

Meta-ethics asks how we understand, know about, and what we mean when we talk about what is right and what is wrong. An ethical question fixed on some particular practical question—such as, “Should I eat this particular piece of chocolate cake?”—cannot be a meta-ethical question. A meta-ethical question is abstract and relates to a wide range of more specific practical questions. For example, “Is it ever possible to have secure knowledge of what is right and wrong?” would be a meta-ethical question.

Meta-ethics has always accompanied philosophical ethics. For example, Aristotle implies that less precise knowledge is possible in ethics than in other spheres of inquiry, and he regards ethical knowledge as depending upon habit and acculturation in a way that makes it distinctive from other kinds of knowledge. Meta-ethics is also important in G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica from 1903. In it he first wrote about what he called the naturalistic fallacy. Moore was seen to reject naturalism in ethics, in his Open Question Argument. This made thinkers look again at second order questions about ethics. Earlier, the Scottish philosopher David Hume had put forward a similar view on the difference between facts and values.

Studies of how we know in ethics divide into cognitivism and non-cognitivism; this is similar to the contrast between descriptivists and non-descriptivists. Non-cognitivism is the claim that when we judge something as right or wrong, this is neither true nor false. We may for example be only expressing our emotional feelings about these things. Cognitivism can then be seen as the claim that when we talk about right and wrong, we are talking about matters of fact.

The ontology of ethics is about value-bearing things or properties, i.e. the kind of things or stuff referred to by ethical propositions. Non-descriptivists and non-cognitivists believe that ethics does not need a specific ontology, since ethical propositions do not refer. This is known as an anti-realist position. Realists on the other hand must explain what kind of entities, properties or states are relevant for ethics, how they have value, and why they guide and motivate our actions.

Normative ethics

Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts. Normative ethics is also distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical investigation of people’s moral beliefs. To put it another way, descriptive ethics would be concerned with determining what proportion of people believe that killing is always wrong, while normative ethics is concerned with whether it is correct to hold such a belief. Hence, normative ethics is sometimes called prescriptive, rather than descriptive. However, on certain versions of the meta-ethical view called moral realism, moral facts are both descriptive and prescriptive at the same time.

Traditionally, normative ethics (also known as moral theory) was the study of what makes actions right and wrong. These theories offered an overarching moral principle one could appeal to in resolving difficult moral decisions.

At the turn of the 20th century, moral theories became more complex and are no longer concerned solely with rightness and wrongness, but are interested in many different kinds of moral status. During the middle of the century, the study of normative ethics declined as meta-ethics grew in prominence. This focus on meta-ethics was in part caused by an intense linguistic focus in analytic philosophy and by the popularity of logical positivism.

In 1971 John Rawls published A Theory of Justice, noteworthy in its pursuit of moral arguments and eschewing of meta-ethics. This publication set the trend for renewed interest in normative ethics.

Virtue ethics

Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, and is used to describe the ethics of Socrates, Aristotle, and other early Greek philosophers. Socrates (469–399 BC) was one of the first Greek philosophers to encourage both scholars and the common citizen to turn their attention from the outside world to the condition of humankind. In this view, knowledge bearing on human life was placed highest, while all other knowledge were secondary. Self-knowledge was considered necessary for success and inherently an essential good. A self-aware person will act completely within his capabilities to his pinnacle, while an ignorant person will flounder and encounter difficulty. To Socrates, a person must become aware of every fact (and its context) relevant to his existence, if he wishes to attain self-knowledge. He posited that people will naturally do what is good, if they know what is right. Evil or bad actions are the result of ignorance. If a criminal was truly aware of the intellectual and spiritual consequences of his actions, he would neither commit nor even consider committing those actions. Any person who knows what is truly right will automatically do it, according to Socrates. While he correlated knowledge with virtue, he similarly equated virtue with joy. The truly wise man will know what is right, do what is good, and therefore be happy.

Aristotle (384–323 BC) posited an ethical system that may be termed “self-realizationism”. In Aristotle’s view, when a person acts in accordance with his nature and realizes his full potential, he will do good and be content. At birth, a baby is not a person, but a potential person. To become a “real” person, the child’s inherent potential must be realized. Unhappiness and frustration are caused by the unrealized potential of a person, leading to failed goals and a poor life. Aristotle said, “Nature does nothing in vain.” Therefore, it is imperative for people to act in accordance with their nature and develop their latent talents in order to be content and complete. Happiness was held to be the ultimate goal. All other things, such as civic life or wealth, are merely means to the end. Self-realization, the awareness of one’s nature and the development of one’s talents, is the surest path to happiness.

Aristotle asserted that man had three natures: vegetable (physical/metabolism), animal (emotional/appetite) and rational (mental/conceptual). Physical nature can be assuaged through exercise and care, emotional nature through indulgence of instinct and urges, and mental through human reason and developed potential. Rational development was considered the most important, as essential to philosophical self-awareness and as uniquely human. Moderation was encouraged, with the extremes seen as degraded and immoral. For example, courage is the moderate virtue between the extremes of cowardice and recklessness. Man should not simply live, but live well with conduct governed by moderate virtue. This is regarded as difficult, as virtue denotes doing the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, to the proper extent, in the correct fashion, for the right reason.

Stoicism

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus posited that the greatest good was contentment and serenity. Peace of mind, or Apatheia, was of the highest value; self-mastery over one’s desires and emotions leads to spiritual peace. The “unconquerable will” is central to this philosophy. The individual’s will should be independent and inviolate. Allowing a person to disturb the mental equilibrium is in essence offering yourself in slavery. If a person is free to anger you at will, you have no control over your internal world, and therefore no freedom. Freedom from material attachments is also necessary. If a thing breaks, the person should not be upset, but realize it was a thing that could break. Similarly, if someone should die, those close to them should hold to their serenity because the loved one was made of flesh and blood destined to death. Stoic philosophy says to accept things that cannot be changed, resigning oneself to existence and enduring in a rational fashion. Death is not feared. People do not “lose” their life, but instead “return”, for they are returning to God (who initially gave what the person is as a person). Epictetus said difficult problems in life should not be avoided, but rather embraced. They are spiritual exercises needed for the health of the spirit, just as physical exercise is required for the health of the body. He also stated that sex and sexual desire are to be avoided as the greatest threat to the integrity and equilibrium of a man’s mind. Abstinence is highly desirable. Epictetus said remaining abstinent in the face of temptation was a victory for which a man could be proud.

Contemporary virtue ethics

Modern virtue ethics was popularized during the late 20th century in large part as a response to G. E. M. Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy”. Anscombe argues that consequentialist and deontological ethics are only feasible as universal theories if the two schools ground themselves in divine law. As a deeply devoted Christian herself, Anscombe proposed that either those who do not give ethical credence to notions of divine law take up virtue ethics, which does not necessitate universal laws as agents themselves are investigated for virtue or vice and held up to “universal standards”, or that those who wish to be utilitarian or consequentialist ground their theories in religious conviction. Alasdair MacIntyre, who wrote the book After Virtue, was a key contributor and proponent of modern virtue ethics, although MacIntyre supports a relativistic account of virtue based on cultural norms, not objective standards. Martha Nussbaum, a contemporary virtue ethicist, objects to MacIntyre’s relativism, among that of others, and responds to relativist objections to form an objective account in her work “Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach”. Complete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century blended the Eastern virtue ethics and the Western virtue ethics, with some modifications to suit the 21st Century, and formed a part of contemporary virtue ethics.

Hedonism

Hedonism posits that the principal ethic is maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. There are several schools of Hedonist thought ranging from those advocating the indulgence of even momentary desires to those teaching a pursuit of spiritual bliss. In their consideration of consequences, they range from those advocating self-gratification regardless of the pain and expense to others, to those stating that the most ethical pursuit maximizes pleasure and happiness for the most people.

Cyrenaic hedonism

Founded by Aristippus of Cyrene, Cyrenaics supported immediate gratification or pleasure. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Even fleeting desires should be indulged, for fear the opportunity should be forever lost. There was little to no concern with the future, the present dominating in the pursuit for immediate pleasure. Cyrenaic hedonism encouraged the pursuit of enjoyment and indulgence without hesitation, believing pleasure to be the only good.

Epicureanism

Epicurean ethics is a hedonist form of virtue ethics. Epicurus “presented a sustained argument that pleasure, correctly understood, will coincide with virtue”. He rejected the extremism of the Cyrenaics, believing some pleasures and indulgences to be detrimental to human beings. Epicureans observed that indiscriminate indulgence sometimes resulted in negative consequences. Some experiences were therefore rejected out of hand, and some unpleasant experiences endured in the present to ensure a better life in the future. To Epicurus the summum bonum, or greatest good, was prudence, exercised through moderation and caution. Excessive indulgence can be destructive to pleasure and can even lead to pain. For example, eating one food too often will cause a person to lose taste for it. Eating too much food at once will lead to discomfort and ill-health. Pain and fear were to be avoided. Living was essentially good, barring pain and illness. Death was not to be feared. Fear was considered the source of most unhappiness. Conquering the fear of death would naturally lead to a happier life. Epicurus reasoned if there was an afterlife and immortality, the fear of death was irrational. If there was no life after death, then the person would not be alive to suffer, fear or worry; he would be non-existent in death. It is irrational to fret over circumstances that do not exist, such as one’s state in death in the absence of an afterlife.

State consequentialism

State consequentialism, also known as Mohist consequentialism, is an ethical theory that evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how much it contributes to the basic goods of a state. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes Mohist consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BC, as “a remarkably sophisticated version based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human welfare”. Unlike utilitarianism, which views pleasure as a moral good, “the basic goods in Mohist consequentialist thinking are … order, material wealth, and increase in population”. During Mozi’s era, war and famines were common, and population growth was seen as a moral necessity for a harmonious society. The “material wealth” of Mohist consequentialism refers to basic needs like shelter and clothing, and the “order” of Mohist consequentialism refers to Mozi’s stance against warfare and violence, which he viewed as pointless and a threat to social stability.

Stanford sinologist David Shepherd Nivison, in The Cambridge History of Ancient China, writes that the moral goods of Mohism “are interrelated: more basic wealth, then more reproduction; more people, then more production and wealth … if people have plenty, they would be good, filial, kind, and so on unproblematically.” The Mohists believed that morality is based on “promoting the benefit of all under heaven and eliminating harm to all under heaven”. In contrast to Bentham’s views, state consequentialism is not utilitarian because it is not hedonistic or individualistic. The importance of outcomes that are good for the community outweigh the importance of individual pleasure and pain.

Consequentialism/Teleology

Consequentialism refers to moral theories that hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action (or create a structure for judgment, see rule consequentialism). Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence. This view is often expressed as the aphorism “The ends justify the means”.

The term “consequentialism” was coined by G. E. M. Anscombe in her essay “Modern Moral Philosophy” in 1958, to describe what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories, such as those propounded by Mill and Sidgwick. Since then, the term has become common in English-language ethical theory.

The defining feature of consequentialist moral theories is the weight given to the consequences in evaluating the rightness and wrongness of actions. In consequentialist theories, the consequences of an action or rule generally outweigh other considerations. Apart from this basic outline, there is little else that can be unequivocally said about consequentialism as such. However, there are some questions that many consequentialist theories address:

What sort of consequences count as good consequences?

Who is the primary beneficiary of moral action?

How are the consequences judged and who judges them?

One way to divide various consequentialisms is by the types of consequences that are taken to matter most, that is, which consequences count as good states of affairs. According to utilitarianism, a good action is one that results in an increase in a positive effect, and the best action is one that results in that effect for the greatest number. Closely related is eudaimonic consequentialism, according to which a full, flourishing life, which may or may not be the same as enjoying a great deal of pleasure, is the ultimate aim. Similarly, one might adopt an aesthetic consequentialism, in which the ultimate aim is to produce beauty. However, one might fix on non-psychological goods as the relevant effect. Thus, one might pursue an increase in material equality or political liberty instead of something like the more ephemeral “pleasure”. Other theories adopt a package of several goods, all to be promoted equally. Whether a particular consequentialist theory focuses on a single good or many, conflicts and tensions between different good states of affairs are to be expected and must be adjudicated.

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that argues the proper course of action is one that maximizes a positive effect, such as “happiness”, “welfare”, or the ability to live according to personal preferences. Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are influential proponents of this school of thought. In A Fragment on Government Bentham says ‘it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong’ and describes this as a fundamental axiom. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation he talks of ‘the principle of utility’ but later prefers “the greatest happiness principle”.

Utilitarianism is the paradigmatic example of a consequentialist moral theory. This form of utilitarianism holds that what matters is the aggregate positive effect of everyone and not only of any one person. John Stuart Mill, in his exposition of utilitarianism, proposed a hierarchy of pleasures, meaning that the pursuit of certain kinds of pleasure is more highly valued than the pursuit of other pleasures. Other noteworthy proponents of utilitarianism are neuroscientist Sam Harris, author of The Moral Landscape, and moral philosopher Peter Singer, author of, amongst other works, Practical Ethics.

There are two types of utilitarianism, act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. In act utilitarianism the principle of utility is applied directly to each alternative act in a situation of choice. The right act is then defined as the one which brings about the best results (or the least amount of bad results). In rule utilitarianism the principle of utility is used to determine the validity of rules of conduct (moral principles). A rule like promise-keeping is established by looking at the consequences of a world in which people broke promises at will and a world in which promises were binding. Right and wrong are then defined as following or breaking those rules.

Deontology

Deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek δέον, deon, “obligation, duty”; and -λογία, -logia) is an approach to ethics that determines goodness or rightness from examining acts, or the rules and duties that the person doing the act strove to fulfill. This is in contrast to consequentialism, in which rightness is based on the consequences of an act, and not the act by itself. In deontology, an act may be considered right even if the act produces a bad consequence, if it follows the rule that “one should do unto others as they would have done unto them”, and even if the person who does the act lacks virtue and had a bad intention in doing the act. According to deontology, people have a duty to act in a way that does those things that are inherently good as acts (“truth-telling” for example), or follow an objectively obligatory rule (as in rule utilitarianism). For deontologists, the ends or consequences of people’s actions are not important in and of themselves, and people’s intentions are not important in and of themselves.

Immanuel Kant’s theory of ethics is considered deontological for several different reasons. First, Kant argues that to act in the morally right way, people must act from duty (deon). Second, Kant argued that it was not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives (maxime) of the person who carries out the action. Kant’s argument that to act in the morally right way, one must act from duty, begins with an argument that the highest good must be both good in itself, and good without qualification. Something is ‘good in itself’ when it is intrinsically good, and ‘good without qualification’ when the addition of that thing never makes a situation ethically worse. Kant then argues that those things that are usually thought to be good, such as intelligence, perseverance and pleasure, fail to be either intrinsically good or good without qualification. Pleasure, for example, appears to not be good without qualification, because when people take pleasure in watching someone suffer, they make the situation ethically worse. He concludes that there is only one thing that is truly good:

Nothing in the world—indeed nothing even beyond the world—can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will.

Pragmatic ethics

Associated with the pragmatists, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and especially John Dewey, pragmatic ethics holds that moral correctness evolves similarly to scientific knowledge: socially over the course of many lifetimes. Thus, we should prioritize social reform over attempts to account for consequences, individual virtue or duty (although these may be worthwhile attempts, provided social reform is provided for).

Role ethics

Role ethics is an ethical theory based on family roles. Unlike virtue ethics, role ethics is not individualistic. Morality is derived from a person’s relationship with their community. Confucian ethics is an example of role ethics. Confucian roles center around the concept of filial piety or xiao, a respect for family members. According to Roger Ames and Henry Rosemont, “Confucian normativity is defined by living one’s family roles to maximum effect.” Morality is determined through a person’s fulfillment of a role, such as that of a parent or a child. Confucian roles are not rational, and originate through the xin, or human emotions.

Anarchist ethics

Anarchist ethics is an ethical theory based on the studies of anarchist thinkers. The biggest contributor to the anarchist ethics is the Russian zoologist, geographer, economist and political activist Peter Kropotkin. The anarchist ethics is a big and vague field which can depend upon different historical situations and different anarchist thinkers, but as Peter Kropotkin explains, “any “bourgeois” or “proletarian” ethics rests, after all, on the common basis, on the common ethnological foundation, which at times exerts a very strong influence on the principles of the class or group morality.” Still, most of the anarchist ethics schools are based on three fundamental ideas, which are: “solidarity, equality and justice”. Kropotkin argues that Ethics is evolutionary and is inherited as a sort of a social instinct through History, and by so, he rejects any religious and transcendental explanation of ethics. Kropotkin suggests that the principle of equality which lies at the basis of anarchism is the same as the Golden rule:

This principle of treating others as one wishes to be treated oneself, what is it but the very same principle as equality, the fundamental principle of anarchism? And how can any one manage to believe himself an anarchist unless he practices it? We do not wish to be ruled. And by this very fact, do we not declare that we ourselves wish to rule nobody? We do not wish to be deceived, we wish always to be told nothing but the truth. And by this very fact, do we not de- clare that we ourselves do not wish to deceive anybody, that we promise to always tell the truth, nothing but the truth, the whole truth? We do not wish to have the fruits of our labor stolen from us. And by that very fact, do we not declare that we respect the fruits of others’ labor? By what right indeed can we demand that we should be treated in one fashion, reserving it to ourselves to treat others in a fashion entirely different? Our sense of equality revolts at such an idea.

Postmodern ethics

The 20th century saw a remarkable expansion and evolution of critical theory, following on earlier Marxist Theory efforts to locate individuals within larger structural frameworks of ideology and action.

Antihumanists such as Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault and structuralists such as Roland Barthes challenged the possibilities of individual agency and the coherence of the notion of the ‘individual’ itself. As critical theory developed in the later 20th century, post-structuralism sought to problematize human relationships to knowledge and ‘objective’ reality. Jacques Derrida argued that access to meaning and the ‘real’ was always deferred, and sought to demonstrate via recourse to the linguistic realm that “there is nothing outside context” (“il n’y a pas de hors-texte” is often mistranslated as “there is nothing outside the text”); at the same time, Jean Baudrillard theorised that signs and symbols or simulacra mask reality (and eventually the absence of reality itself), particularly in the consumer world.

Post-structuralism and postmodernism argue that ethics must study the complex and relational conditions of actions. A simple alignment of ideas of right and particular acts is not possible. There will always be an ethical remainder that cannot be taken into account or often even recognized. Such theorists find narrative (or, following Nietzsche and Foucault, genealogy) to be a helpful tool for understanding ethics because narrative is always about particular lived experiences in all their complexity rather than the assignment of an idea or norm to separate and individuated actions.

Zygmunt Bauman says Postmodernity is best described as Modernity without illusion, the illusion being the belief that humanity can be repaired by some ethic principle. Postmodernity can be seen in this light as accepting the messy nature of humanity as unchangeable.

David Couzens Hoy states that Emmanuel Levinas’s writings on the face of the Other and Derrida’s meditations on the relevance of death to ethics are signs of the “ethical turn” in Continental philosophy that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Hoy describes post-critique ethics as the “obligations that present themselves as necessarily to be fulfilled but are neither forced on one or are enforceable” (2004, p. 103).

Hoy’s post-critique model uses the term ethical resistance. Examples of this would be an individual’s resistance to consumerism in a retreat to a simpler but perhaps harder lifestyle, or an individual’s resistance to a terminal illness. Hoy describes Levinas’s account as “not the attempt to use power against itself, or to mobilize sectors of the population to exert their political power; the ethical resistance is instead the resistance of the powerless”(2004, p. 8).

Hoy concludes that

The ethical resistance of the powerless others to our capacity to exert power over them is therefore what imposes unenforceable obligations on us. The obligations are unenforceable precisely because of the other’s lack of power. That actions are at once obligatory and at the same time unenforceable is what put them in the category of the ethical. Obligations that were enforced would, by the virtue of the force behind them, not be freely undertaken and would not be in the realm of the ethical. (2004, p.184)

In present-day terms the powerless may include the unborn, the terminally sick, the aged, the insane, and non-human animals. It is in these areas that ethical action in Hoy’s sense will apply. Until legislation or the state apparatus enforces a moral order that addresses the causes of resistance these issues will remain in the ethical realm. For example, should animal experimentation become illegal in a society, it will no longer be an ethical issue on Hoy’s definition. Likewise one hundred and fifty years ago, not having a black slave in America would have been an ethical choice. This later issue has been absorbed into the fabric of an enforceable social order and is therefore no longer an ethical issue in Hoy’s sense.

Applied ethics

Applied ethics is a discipline of philosophy that attempts to apply ethical theory to real-life situations. The discipline has many specialized fields, such as engineering ethics, bioethics, geoethics, public service ethics and business ethics.

Specific questions

Applied ethics is used in some aspects of determining public policy, as well as by individuals facing difficult decisions. The sort of questions addressed by applied ethics include: “Is getting an abortion immoral?” “Is euthanasia immoral?” “Is affirmative action right or wrong?” “What are human rights, and how do we determine them?” “Do animals have rights as well?” and “Do individuals have the right of self determination?”

A more specific question could be: “If someone else can make better out of his/her life than I can, is it then moral to sacrifice myself for them if needed?” Without these questions there is no clear fulcrum on which to balance law, politics, and the practice of arbitration—in fact, no common assumptions of all participants—so the ability to formulate the questions are prior to rights balancing. But not all questions studied in applied ethics concern public policy. For example, making ethical judgments regarding questions such as, “Is lying always wrong?” and, “If not, when is it permissible?” is prior to any etiquette.

People in-general are more comfortable with dichotomies (two opposites). However, in ethics the issues are most often multifaceted and the best proposed actions address many different areas concurrently. In ethical decisions the answer is almost never a “yes or no”, “right or wrong” statement. Many buttons are pushed so that the overall condition is improved and not to the benefit of any particular faction.

Particular fields of application

Bioethics

Bioethics is the study of controversial ethics brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy. It also includes the study of the more commonplace questions of values (“the ethics of the ordinary”) that arise in primary care and other branches of medicine.

Bioethics also needs to address emerging biotechnologies that affect basic biology and future humans. These developments include cloning, gene therapy, human genetic engineering, astroethics and life in space, and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA, RNA and proteins,e.g.- “three parent baby,where baby is born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor. Correspondingly, new bioethics also need to address life at its core. For example, biotic ethics value organic gene/protein life itself and seek to propagate it. With such life-centered principles, ethics may secure a cosmological future for life.

Business ethics

Business ethics (also corporate ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment, including fields like Medical ethics. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and entire organizations.

Business ethics has both normative and descriptive dimensions. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. Academics attempting to understand business behavior employ descriptive methods. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflects the interaction of profit-maximizing behavior with non-economic concerns. Interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations and within academia. For example, today most major corporations promote their commitment to non-economic values under headings such as ethics codes and social responsibility charters. Adam Smith said, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Governments use laws and regulations to point business behavior in what they perceive to be beneficial directions. Ethics implicitly regulates areas and details of behavior that lie beyond governmental control. The emergence of large corporations with limited relationships and sensitivity to the communities in which they operate accelerated the development of formal ethics regimes.

Machine ethics

In Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong, Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen conclude that issues in machine ethics will likely drive advancement in understanding of human ethics by forcing us to address gaps in modern normative theory and by providing a platform for experimental investigation. The effort to actually program a machine or artificial agent to behave as though instilled with a sense of ethics requires new specificity in our normative theories, especially regarding aspects customarily considered common-sense. For example, machines, unlike humans, can support a wide selection of learning algorithms, and controversy has arisen over the relative ethical merits of these options. This may reopen classic debates of normative ethics framed in new (highly technical) terms.

Military ethics

Military ethics are concerned with questions regarding the application of force and the ethos of the soldier and are often understood as applied professional ethics. Just war theory is generally seen to set the background terms of military ethics. However individual countries and traditions have different fields of attention.

Military ethics involves multiple subareas, including the following among others:

what, if any, should be the laws of war.

justification for the initiation of military force.

decisions about who may be targeted in warfare.

decisions on choice of weaponry, and what collateral effects such weaponry may have.

standards for handling military prisoners.

methods of dealing with violations of the laws of war.

Political ethics

Political ethics (also known as political morality or public ethics) is the practice of making moral judgements about political action and political agents.

Public sector ethics

Public sector ethics is a set of principles that guide public officials in their service to their constituents, including their decision-making on behalf of their constituents. Fundamental to the concept of public sector ethics is the notion that decisions and actions are based on what best serves the public’s interests, as opposed to the official’s personal interests (including financial interests) or self-serving political interests.

Publication ethics

Publication ethics is the set of principles that guide the writing and publishing process for all professional publications. In order to follow the set of principles, authors should verify that the publication does not contain plagiarism or publication bias. As a way to avoid misconduct in research these principles can also be applied to experiments which are referenced or analyzed in publications by ensuring the data is recorded, honestly and accurately.

Plagiarism is the failure to give credit to another author’s work or ideas, when it is used in the publication. It is the obligation of the editor of the journal to ensure the article does not contain any plagiarism before it is published. If a publication which has already been published is proven to contain plagiarism, then the editor of the journal can proceed to have the article retracted.

Publication bias occurs when the publication is one-sided or “prejudiced against results”. In best practice, an author should try to include information from all parties involved, or affected by the topic. If an author is prejudiced against certain results, than it can “lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn.”

Misconduct in research can occur when information from an experiment is falsely recorded or altered. Falsely recorded information occurs when the researcher “fakes” information or data, which was not used when conducting the actual experiment. By faking the data, the researcher can alter the results from the experiment to better fit the hypothesis they originally predicted. When conducting medical research, it is important to honor the healthcare rights of a patient by protecting their anonymity in the publication.

Relational ethics

Relational ethics are related to an ethics of care. They are used in qualitative research, especially ethnography and autoethnography. Researchers who employ relational ethics value and respect the connection between themselves and the people they study, and “between researchers and the communities in which they live and work” (Ellis, 2007, p. 4). Relational ethics also help researchers understand difficult issues such as conducting research on intimate others that have died and developing friendships with their participants. Relational ethics in close personal relationships form a central concept of contextual therapy.

Moral psychology

Moral psychology is a field of study that began as an issue in philosophy and that is now properly considered part of the discipline of psychology. Some use the term “moral psychology” relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. However, others tend to use the term more broadly to include any topics at the intersection of ethics and psychology (and philosophy of mind). Such topics are ones that involve the mind and are relevant to moral issues. Some of the main topics of the field are moral responsibility, moral development, moral character (especially as related to virtue ethics), altruism, psychological egoism, moral luck, and moral disagreement.

Evolutionary ethics

Evolutionary ethics concerns approaches to ethics (morality) based on the role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior. Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychology or sociobiology, with a focus on understanding and explaining observed ethical preferences and choices.

Descriptive ethics

Descriptive ethics is on the less philosophical end of the spectrum, since it seeks to gather particular information about how people live and draw general conclusions based on observed patterns. Abstract and theoretical questions that are more clearly philosophical—such as, “Is ethical knowledge possible?”—are not central to descriptive ethics. Descriptive ethics offers a value-free approach to ethics, which defines it as a social science rather than a humanity. Its examination of ethics doesn’t start with a preconceived theory, but rather investigates observations of actual choices made by moral agents in practice. Some philosophers rely on descriptive ethics and choices made and unchallenged by a society or culture to derive categories, which typically vary by context. This can lead to situational ethics and situated ethics. These philosophers often view aesthetics, etiquette, and arbitration as more fundamental, percolating “bottom up” to imply the existence of, rather than explicitly prescribe, theories of value or of conduct. The study of descriptive ethics may include examinations of the following:

Ethical codes applied by various groups. Some consider aesthetics itself the basis of ethics—and a personal moral core developed through art and storytelling as very influential in one’s later ethical choices.

Informal theories of etiquette that tend to be less rigorous and more situational. Some consider etiquette a simple negative ethics, i.e., where can one evade an uncomfortable truth without doing wrong? One notable advocate of this view is Judith Martin (“Miss Manners”). According to this view, ethics is more a summary of common sense social decisions.

Practices in arbitration and law, e.g., the claim that ethics itself is a matter of balancing “right versus right”, i.e., putting priorities on two things that are both right, but that must be traded off carefully in each situation.

Observed choices made by ordinary people, without expert aid or advice, who vote, buy, and decide what is worth valuing. This is a major concern of sociology, political science, and economics.

See also

Contemporary ethics

Corporate social responsibility

Declaration of Geneva

Declaration of Helsinki

Deductive reasoning

Descriptive ethics

Dharma

Ethical movement

Ethics paper

Index of ethics articles—alphabetical list of ethics-related articles

Moral psychology

Outline of ethics—list of ethics-related articles, arranged by sub-topic

Practical philosophy

Science of morality

Theory of justification

Notes

References

Hoy, D. (2005). Critical Resistance from Poststructuralism to Postcritique. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lyon, D. (1999). Postmodernity (2nd ed.). Open University Press, Buckingham.

Singer, P. (2000). Writings on an Ethical Life. Harper Collins Publishers, London.

Further reading

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

The London Philosophy Study Guide offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student’s familiarity with the subject: Ethics

Encyclopedia of Ethics. Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker, editors. Second edition in three volumes. New York: Routledge, 2002. A scholarly encyclopedia with over 500 signed, peer-reviewed articles, mostly on topics and figures of, or of special interest in, Western philosophy.

Azurmendi, J. 1998: “The violence and the search for new values” in Euskal Herria krisian, (Elkar, 1999), pp. 11–116. ISBN 84-8331-572-6

Blackburn, S. (2001). Being good: A short introduction to ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

De Finance, Joseph, An Ethical Inquiry, Rome, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1991.

De La Torre, Miguel A., “Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins”, Orbis Books, 2004.

Derrida, J. 1995, The Gift of Death, translated by David Wills, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Fagothey, Austin, Right and Reason, Tan Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, 2000.

Levinas, E. 1969, Totality and infinity, an essay on exteriority, translated by Alphonso Lingis, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh.

Perle, Stephen (March 11, 2004). “Morality and Ethics: An Introduction”. Retrieved February 13, 2007. , Butchvarov, Panayot. Skepticism in Ethics (1989).

Solomon, R.C., Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics Through Classical Sources, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1984.

Vendemiati, Aldo, In the First Person, An Outline of General Ethics, Rome, Urbaniana University Press, 2004.

John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993.

D’Urance, Michel, Jalons pour une éthique rebelle, Aléthéia, Paris, 2005.

John Newton, Ph.D. Complete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century, 2000. ISBN 0-9673705-7-4.

Guy Cools & Pascal Gielen, The Ethics of Art. Valiz: Amsterdam, 2014.

Lafollette, Hugh [ed.]: Ethics in Practice: An Anthology. Wiley Blackwell, 4th edition, Oxford 2014. ISBN 978-0470671832

An entire issue of Pacific Island Studies was devoted to studying “Constructing Moral Communities” in Pacific islands, 2002, vol. 25. [1]

External links

Meta-Ethics at PhilPapers

Normative Ethics at PhilPapers

Applied Ethics at PhilPapers

Ethics at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project

“Ethics”. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

An Introduction to Ethics by Paul Newall, aimed at beginners.

Ethics, 2d ed., 1973. by William Frankena

Ethics Bites, Open University podcast series podcast exploring ethical dilemmas in everyday life.

National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature World’s largest library for ethical issues in medicine and biomedical research

Ethics entry in Encyclopædia Britannica by Peter Singer

The Philosophy of Ethics on Philosophy Archive

Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics Resources, events, and research on a range of ethical subjects from a Christian perspective.

International Association for Geoethics (IAGETH)

International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University Resources for analyzing real-world ethical issues and tools to address them.

future

The future is what will happen in the time after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the apparent nature of reality and the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and will exist can be categorized as either permanent, meaning that it will exist forever, or temporary, meaning that it will end. The future and the concept of eternity have been major subjects of philosophy, religion, and science, and defining them non-controversially has consistently eluded the greatest of minds. In the Occidental view, which uses a linear conception of time, the future is the portion of the projected time line that is anticipated to occur. In special relativity, the future is considered absolute future, or the future light cone.

In the philosophy of time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists and the future and the past are unreal. Religions consider the future when they address issues such as karma, life after death, and eschatologies that study what the end of time and the end of the world will be. Religious figures such as prophets and diviners have claimed to see into the future. Organized efforts to predict or forecast the future may have derived from observations by early man of heavenly objects.

Future studies, or futurology, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible futures. Modern practitioners stress the importance of alternative and plural futures, rather than one monolithic future, and the limitations of prediction and probability, versus the creation of possible and preferable futures.

The concept of the future has been explored extensively in cultural production, including art movements and genres devoted entirely to its elucidation, such as the 20th century movement futurism.

Forecasting

Forecasting is the process of estimating outcomes in uncontrolled situations. Forecasting is applied in many areas, such as weather forecasting, earthquake prediction, transport planning, and labour market planning. Due to the element of the unknown, risk and uncertainty are central to forecasting.

Statistically based forecasting employs time series with cross-sectional or longitudinal data. Econometric forecasting methods use the assumption that it is possible to identify the underlying factors that might influence the variable that is being forecast. If the causes are understood, projections of the influencing variables can be made and used in the forecast. Judgmental forecasting methods incorporate intuitive judgments, opinions and probability estimates, as in the case of the Delphi method, scenario building, and simulations.

Prediction is similar to forecasting but is used more generally, for instance to also include baseless claims on the future. Organized efforts to predict the future began with practices like astrology, haruspicy, and augury. These are all considered to be pseudoscience today, evolving from the human desire to know the future in advance.

Modern efforts such as future studies attempt to predict technological and societal trends, while more ancient practices, such as weather forecasting, have benefited from scientific and causal modelling. Despite the development of cognitive instruments for the comprehension of future, the stochastic and chaotic nature of many natural and social processes has made precise forecasting of the future elusive.

Future studies

Future studies or futurology is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. A key part of this process is understanding the potential future impact of decisions made by individuals, organisations and governments. Leaders use results of such work to assist in decision-making.

Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday’s and today’s changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow. It includes analyzing the sources, patterns, and causes of change and stability in the attempt to develop foresight and to map possible futures. Modern practitioners stress the importance of alternative and plural futures, rather than one monolithic future, and the limitations of prediction and probability, versus the creation of possible and preferable futures.

Three factors usually distinguish futures studies from the research conducted by other disciplines (although all disciplines overlap, to differing degrees). First, futures studies often examines not only possible but also probable, preferable, and “wild card” futures. Second, futures studies typically attempts to gain a holistic or systemic view based on insights from a range of different disciplines. Third, futures studies challenges and unpacks the assumptions behind dominant and contending views of the future. The future thus is not empty but fraught with hidden assumptions.

Futures studies does not generally include the work of economists who forecast movements of interest rates over the next business cycle, or of managers or investors with short-term time horizons. Most strategic planning, which develops operational plans for preferred futures with time horizons of one to three years, is also not considered futures. But plans and strategies with longer time horizons that specifically attempt to anticipate and be robust to possible future events, are part of a major subdiscipline of futures studies called strategic foresight.

The futures field also excludes those who make future predictions through professed supernatural means. At the same time, it does seek to understand the models such groups use and the interpretations they give to these models.

Physics

In physics, time is a fourth dimension. Physicists argue that space-time can be understood as a sort of stretchy fabric that bends due to forces such as gravity. In classical physics the future is just a half of the timeline, which is the same for all observers. In special relativity the flow of time is relative to the observer’s frame of reference. The faster an observer is traveling away from a reference object, the slower that object seems to move through time. Hence, future is not an objective notion anymore. A more significant notion is absolute future or the future light cone. While a person can move backwards or forwards in the three spatial dimensions, many physicists argue you are only able to move forward in time.

One of the outcomes of Special Relativity Theory is that a person can travel into the future (but never come back) by traveling at very high speeds. While this effect is negligible under ordinary conditions, space travel at very high speeds can change the flow of time considerably. As depicted in many science fiction stories and movies (e.g. Déjà Vu), a person traveling for even a short time at near light speed will return to an Earth that is many years in the future.

Some physicists claim that by using a wormhole to connect two regions of space-time a person could theoretically travel in time. Physicist Michio Kaku points out that to power this hypothetical time machine and “punch a hole into the fabric of space-time”, it would require the energy of a star. Another theory is that a person could travel in time with cosmic strings.

Philosophy

In the philosophy of time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists, and the future and past are unreal. Past and future “entities” are construed as logical constructions or fictions. The opposite of presentism is ‘eternalism’, which is the belief that things in the past and things yet to come exist eternally. Another view (not held by many philosophers) is sometimes called the ‘growing block’ theory of time—which postulates that the past and present exist, but the future does not.

Presentism is compatible with Galilean relativity, in which time is independent of space, but is probably incompatible with Lorentzian/Einsteinian relativity in conjunction with certain other philosophical theses that many find uncontroversial. Saint Augustine proposed that the present is a knife edge between the past and the future and could not contain any extended period of time.

Contrary to Saint Augustine, some philosophers propose that conscious experience is extended in time. For instance, William James said that time is “…the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible.” Augustine proposed that God is outside of time and present for all times, in eternity. Other early philosophers who were presentists include the Buddhists (in the tradition of Indian Buddhism). A leading scholar from the modern era on Buddhist philosophy is Stcherbatsky, who has written extensively on Buddhist presentism:

Psychology

While ethologists consider animal behavior largely based on fixed action patterns or other learned traits in an animal’s past, human behavior is known to encompass anticipation of the future. Anticipatory behavior can be the result of a psychological outlook toward the future, for examples optimism, pessimism, and hope.

Optimism is an outlook on life such that one maintains a view of the world as a positive place. People would say that optimism is seeing the glass “half full” of water as opposed to half empty. It is the philosophical opposite of pessimism. Optimists generally believe that people and events are inherently good, so that most situations work out in the end for the best. Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope implies a certain amount of despair, wanting, wishing, suffering or perseverance — i.e., believing that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. “Hopefulness” is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude.

Pessimism as stated before is the opposite of optimism. It is the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, or problems. The word originates in Latin from Pessimus meaning worst and Malus meaning bad.

Religion

Religions consider the future when they address issues such as karma, life after death, and eschatologies that study what the end of time and the end of the world will be. In religion, major prophets are said to have the power to change the future. Common religious figures have claimed to see into the future, such as minor prophets and diviners. The term “afterlife” refers to the continuation of existence of the soul, spirit or mind of a human (or animal) after physical death, typically in a spiritual or ghostlike afterworld. Deceased persons are usually believed to go to a specific region or plane of existence in this afterworld, often depending on the rightness of their actions during life.

Some believe the afterlife includes some form of preparation for the soul to transfer to another body (reincarnation). The major views on the afterlife derive from religion, esotericism and metaphysics. There are those who are skeptical of the existence of the afterlife, or believe that it is absolutely impossible, such as the materialist-reductionists, who believe that the topic is supernatural, therefore does not really exist or is unknowable. In metaphysical models, theists generally believe some sort of afterlife awaits people when they die. Atheists generally do not believe in a life after death. Members of some generally non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, tend to believe in an afterlife like reincarnation but without reference to God.

Agnostics generally hold the position that like the existence of God, the existence of supernatural phenomena, such as souls or life after death, is unverifiable and therefore unknowable. Many religions, whether they believe in the soul’s existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one’s status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life, with the exception of Calvinistic variants of Protestant Christianity, which believes one’s status in the afterlife is a gift from God and cannot be earned during life.

Eschatology is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world. While in mysticism the phrase refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine, in many traditional religions it is taught as an actual future event prophesied in sacred texts or folklore. More broadly, eschatology may encompass related concepts such as the Messiah or Messianic Age, the end time, and the end of days.

In art and culture

Futurism

Futurism as an art movement originated in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century. It developed largely in Italy and in Russia, although it also had adherents in other countries - in England and Portugal for example. The Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and even gastronomy. Futurists had a passionate loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions. They also espoused a love of speed, technology, and violence. Futurists dubbed the love of the past passéisme. The car, the plane, and the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of people over nature. The Futurist Manifesto of 1909 declared: “We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.” Though it owed much of its character and some of its ideas to radical political movements, it had little involvement in politics until the autumn of 1913.

One of the many 20th-century classical movements in music paid homage to, included, or imitated machines. Closely identified with the central Italian Futurist movement were brother composers Luigi Russolo (1885-1947) and Antonio Russolo (1877-1942), who used instruments known as intonarumori - essentially sound boxes used to create music out of noise. Luigi Russolo’s futurist manifesto, The Art of Noises, is considered one of the most important and influential texts in 20th century musical aesthetics. Other examples of futurist music include Arthur Honegger’s Pacific 231 (1923), which imitates the sound of a steam locomotive, Prokofiev’s “The Steel Step”, and the experiments of Edgard Varèse.

Literary futurism made its debut with F.T. Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism (1909). Futurist poetry used unexpected combinations of images and hyper-conciseness (not to be confused with the actual length of the poem). Futurist theater works have scenes a few sentences long, use nonsensical humor, and try to discredit the deep-rooted dramatic traditions with parody. Longer literature forms, such as novels, had no place in the Futurist aesthetic, which had an obsession with speed and compression.

Futurism expanded to encompass other artistic domains and ultimately included painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, theatre design, textiles, drama, literature, music and architecture. In architecture, it featured a distinctive thrust towards rationalism and modernism through the use of advanced building materials. The ideals of futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and commercial culture. Futurism has produced several reactions, including the 1980s-era literary genre of cyberpunk — which often treated technology with a critical eye.

Science fiction

Science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein defined science fiction as:

More generally, one can regard science fiction as a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theater, and other media. Science fiction differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Settings may include the future, or alternative time-lines, and stories may depict new or speculative scientific principles (such as time travel or psionics), or new technology (such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”.

Some science fiction authors construct a postulated history of the future called a “future history” that provides a common background for their fiction. Sometimes authors publish a timeline of events in their history, while other times the reader can reconstruct the order of the stories from information in the books. Some published works constitute “future history” in a more literal sense—i.e., stories or whole books written in the style of a history book but describing events in the future. Examples include H.G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come (1933) - written in the form of a history book published in the year 2106 and in the manner of a real history book with numerous footnotes and references to the works of (mostly fictitious) prominent historians of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Linear and cyclic culture

The linear view of time (common in Western thought) draws a stronger distinction between past and future than does the more common cyclic time of cultures such as India, where past and future can coalesce much more readily.

See also

Alternative future

Cyberpunk

Future history

Futures studies

Futurism

List of emerging technologies

Neo-futurism

Palmistry

Steampunk

Future events

Future of an expanding universe

Future of the Earth

Future of the Solar System

Timeline of the near future

Timeline of the far future

References

sustainability

In ecology, sustainability (from sustain and ability) is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture. Sustainability science is the study of sustainable development and environmental science.

Sustainability can also be defined as a socio-ecological process characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal. An ideal is by definition unattainable in a given time/space but endlessly approachable and it is this endless pursuit that forms a sustainable system in the process (ibid). Healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary to the survival of humans and other organisms. Ways of reducing negative human impact are environmentally-friendly chemical engineering, environmental resources management and environmental protection. Information is gained from green chemistry, earth science, environmental science and conservation biology. Ecological economics studies the fields of academic research that aim to address human economies and natural ecosystems.

Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy and sustainable fission and fusion power), or designing systems in a flexible and reversible manner, and adjusting individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.

“The term ‘sustainability’ should be viewed as humanity’s target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium (homeostasis), while ‘sustainable development’ refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability.” (305) Despite the increased popularity of the use of the term “sustainability”, the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light of environmental degradation, climate change, overconsumption, population growth and societies’ pursuit of indefinite economic growth in a closed system.

Etymology

The name sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sub, up). Sustain can mean “maintain”, “support”, or “endure”. Since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth and this has resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability as a part of the concept sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Components

Three pillars of sustainability

The 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified sustainable development goals, such as economic development, social development and environmental protection. This view has been expressed as an illustration using three overlapping ellipses indicating that the three pillars of sustainability are not mutually exclusive and can be mutually reinforcing. In fact, the three pillars are interdependent, and in the long run none can exist without the others. The three pillars have served as a common ground for numerous sustainability standards and certification systems in recent years, in particular in the food industry. Standards which today explicitly refer to the triple bottom line include Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and UTZ Certified. Some sustainability experts and practitioners have illustrated four pillars of sustainability, or a quadruple bottom line. One such pillar is future generations, which emphasizes the long-term thinking associated with sustainability. There is also an opinion that considers resource use and financial sustainability as two additional pillars of sustainability.

Sustainable development consists of balancing local and global efforts to meet basic human needs without destroying or degrading the natural environment. The question then becomes how to represent the relationship between those needs and the environment.

A study from 2005 pointed out that environmental justice is as important as is sustainable development. Ecological economist Herman Daly asked, “what use is a sawmill without a forest?” From this perspective, the economy is a subsystem of human society, which is itself a subsystem of the biosphere, and a gain in one sector is a loss from another. This perspective led to the nested circles figure of ‘economics’ inside ‘society’ inside the ‘environment’.

The simple definition that sustainability is something that improves “the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems”, though vague, conveys the idea of sustainability having quantifiable limits. But sustainability is also a call to action, a task in progress or “journey” and therefore a political process, so some definitions set out common goals and values. The Earth Charter speaks of “a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.” This suggested a more complex figure of sustainability, which included the importance of the domain of ‘politics’.

More than that, sustainability implies responsible and proactive decision-making and innovation that minimizes negative impact and maintains balance between ecological resilience, economic prosperity, political justice and cultural vibrancy to ensure a desirable planet for all species now and in the future. Specific types of sustainability include, sustainable agriculture, sustainable architecture or ecological economics. Understanding sustainable development is important but without clear targets an unfocused term like “liberty” or “justice”. It has also been described as a “dialogue of values that challenge the sociology of development”.

Circles of sustainability

While the United Nations Millennium Declaration identified principles and treaties on sustainable development, including economic development, social development and environmental protection it continued using three domains: economics, environment and social sustainability. More recently, using a systematic domain model that responds to the debates over the last decade, the Circles of Sustainability approach distinguished four domains of economic, ecological, political and cultural sustainability. This in accord with the United Nations Agenda 21, which specifies culture as the fourth domain of sustainable development. The model is now being used by organizations such as the United Nations Cities Programme. and Metropolis

Seven modalities

Another model suggests humans attempt to achieve all of their needs and aspirations via seven modalities: economy, community, occupational groups, government, environment, culture, and physiology. From the global to the individual human scale, each of the seven modalities can be viewed across seven hierarchical levels. Human sustainability can be achieved by attaining sustainability in all levels of the seven modalities.

Shaping the future

Integral elements of sustainability are research and innovation activities. A telling example is the European environmental research and innovation policy. It aims at defining and implementing a transformative agenda to greening the economy and the society as a whole so to make them sustainable. Research and innovation in Europe are financially supported by the programme Horizon 2020, which is also open to participation worldwide. Encouraging good farming practices ensures farmers fully benefit from the environment and at the same time conserving it for future generations.

Resiliency

Resiliency in ecology is the capacity of an ecosystem to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic structure and viability. Resilience-thinking evolved from the need to manage interactions between human-constructed systems and natural ecosystems in a sustainable way despite the fact that to policymakers a definition remains elusive. Resilience-thinking addresses how much planetary ecological systems can withstand assault from human disturbances and still deliver the services current and future generations need from them. It is also concerned with commitment from geopolitical policymakers to promote and manage essential planetary ecological resources in order to promote resilience and achieve sustainability of these essential resources for benefit of future generations of life? The resiliency of an ecosystem, and thereby, its sustainability, can be reasonably measured at junctures or events where the combination of naturally occurring regenerative forces (solar energy, water, soil, atmosphere, vegetation, and biomass) interact with the energy released into the ecosystem from disturbances.

A practical view of sustainability is closed systems that maintain processes of productivity indefinitely by replacing resources used by actions of people with resources of equal or greater value by those same people without degrading or endangering natural biotic systems. In this way, sustainability can be concretely measured in human projects if there is a transparent accounting of the resources put back into the ecosystem to replace those displaced. In nature, the accounting occurs naturally through a process of adaptation as an ecosystem returns to viability from an external disturbance. The adaptation is a multi-stage process that begins with the disturbance event (earthquake, volcanic eruption, hurricane, tornado, flood, or thunderstorm), followed by absorption, utilization, or deflection of the energy or energies that the external forces created.

In analysing systems such as urban and national parks, dams, farms and gardens, theme parks, open-pit mines, water catchments, one way to look at the relationship between sustainability and resiliency is to view the former with a long-term vision and resiliency as the capacity of human engineers to respond to immediate environmental events.

History

The history of sustainability traces human-dominated ecological systems from the earliest civilizations to the present time. This history is characterized by the increased regional success of a particular society, followed by crises that were either resolved, producing sustainability, or not, leading to decline.

In early human history, the use of fire and desire for specific foods may have altered the natural composition of plant and animal communities. Between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, agrarian communities emerged which depended largely on their environment and the creation of a “structure of permanence.”

The Western industrial revolution of the 18th to 19th centuries tapped into the vast growth potential of the energy in fossil fuels. Coal was used to power ever more efficient engines and later to generate electricity. Modern sanitation systems and advances in medicine protected large populations from disease. In the mid-20th century, a gathering environmental movement pointed out that there were environmental costs associated with the many material benefits that were now being enjoyed. In the late 20th century, environmental problems became global in scale. The 1973 and 1979 energy crises demonstrated the extent to which the global community had become dependent on non-renewable energy resources.

In the 21st century, there is increasing global awareness of the threat posed by the human greenhouse effect, produced largely by forest clearing and the burning of fossil fuels.

Principles and concepts

The philosophical and analytic framework of sustainability draws on and connects with many different disciplines and fields; in recent years an area that has come to be called sustainability science has emerged.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration identified principles and treaties on sustainable development, including economic development, social development and environmental protection. The Circles of Sustainability approach distinguishes the four domains of economic, ecological, political and cultural sustainability. This in accord with the United Nations Agenda 21, which specifies culture as the fourth domain of sustainable development.

Scale and context

Sustainability is studied and managed over many scales (levels or frames of reference) of time and space and in many contexts of environmental, social and economic organization. The focus ranges from the total carrying capacity (sustainability) of planet Earth to the sustainability of economic sectors, ecosystems, countries, municipalities, neighbourhoods, home gardens, individual lives, individual goods and services, occupations, lifestyles, behaviour patterns and so on. In short, it can entail the full compass of biological and human activity or any part of it. As Daniel Botkin, author and environmentalist, has stated: “We see a landscape that is always in flux, changing over many scales of time and space.”

The sheer size and complexity of the planetary ecosystem has proved problematic for the design of practical measures to reach global sustainability. To shed light on the big picture, explorer and sustainability campaigner Jason Lewis has drawn parallels to other, more tangible closed systems. For example, he likens human existence on Earth — isolated as the planet is in space, whereby people cannot be evacuated to relieve population pressure and resources cannot be imported to prevent accelerated depletion of resources — to life at sea on a small boat isolated by water. In both cases, he argues, exercising the precautionary principle is a key factor in survival.

Consumption

A major driver of human impact on Earth systems is the destruction of biophysical resources, and especially, the Earth’s ecosystems. The environmental impact of a community or of humankind as a whole depends both on population and impact per person, which in turn depends in complex ways on what resources are being used, whether or not those resources are renewable, and the scale of the human activity relative to the carrying capacity of the ecosystems involved. Careful resource management can be applied at many scales, from economic sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and industry, to work organizations, the consumption patterns of households and individuals and to the resource demands of individual goods and services.

One of the initial attempts to express human impact mathematically was developed in the 1970s and is called the I PAT formula. This formulation attempts to explain human consumption in terms of three components: population numbers, levels of consumption (which it terms “affluence”, although the usage is different), and impact per unit of resource use (which is termed “technology”, because this impact depends on the technology used). The equation is expressed:

I = P × A × T

Where: I = Environmental impact, P = Population, A = Affluence, T = Technology

Measurement

Sustainability measurement is a term that denotes the measurements used as the quantitative basis for the informed management of sustainability. The metrics used for the measurement of sustainability (involving the sustainability of environmental, social and economic domains, both individually and in various combinations) are evolving: they include indicators, benchmarks, audits, sustainability standards and certification systems like Fairtrade and Organic, indexes and accounting, as well as assessment, appraisal and other reporting systems. They are applied over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.

Some of the best known and most widely used sustainability measures include corporate sustainability reporting, Triple Bottom Line accounting, World Sustainability Society, Circles of Sustainability, and estimates of the quality of sustainability governance for individual countries using the Environmental Sustainability Index and Environmental Performance Index.

Population

According to the 2008 Revision of the official United Nations population estimates and projections, the world population is projected to reach 7 billion early in 2012, up from the current 6.9 billion (May 2009), to exceed 9 billion people by 2050. Most of the increase will be in developing countries whose population is projected to rise from 5.6 billion in 2009 to 7.9 billion in 2050. This increase will be distributed among the population aged 15–59 (1.2 billion) and 60 or over (1.1 billion) because the number of children under age 15 in developing countries is predicted to decrease. In contrast, the population of the more developed regions is expected to undergo only slight increase from 1.23 billion to 1.28 billion, and this would have declined to 1.15 billion but for a projected net migration from developing to developed countries, which is expected to average 2.4 million persons annually from 2009 to 2050. Long-term estimates in 2004 of global population suggest a peak at around 2070 of nine to ten billion people, and then a slow decrease to 8.4 billion by 2100.

Emerging economies like those of China and India aspire to the living standards of the Western world as does the non-industrialized world in general. It is the combination of population increase in the developing world and unsustainable consumption levels in the developed world that poses a stark challenge to sustainability.

Carrying capacity

At the global scale, scientific data now indicates that humans are living beyond the carrying capacity of planet Earth and that this cannot continue indefinitely. This scientific evidence comes from many sources but is presented in detail in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the planetary boundaries framework. An early detailed examination of global limits was published in the 1972 book Limits to Growth, which has prompted follow-up commentary and analysis. A 2012 review in Nature by 22 international researchers expressed concerns that the Earth may be “approaching a state shift” in its biosphere.

The Ecological footprint measures human consumption in terms of the biologically productive land needed to provide the resources, and absorb the wastes of the average global citizen. In 2008 it required 2.7 global hectares per person, 30% more than the natural biological capacity of 2.1 global hectares (assuming no provision for other organisms). The resulting ecological deficit must be met from unsustainable extra sources and these are obtained in three ways: embedded in the goods and services of world trade; taken from the past (e.g. fossil fuels); or borrowed from the future as unsustainable resource usage (e.g. by over exploiting forests and fisheries).

The figure (right) examines sustainability at the scale of individual countries by contrasting their Ecological Footprint with their UN Human Development Index (a measure of standard of living). The graph shows what is necessary for countries to maintain an acceptable standard of living for their citizens while, at the same time, maintaining sustainable resource use. The general trend is for higher standards of living to become less sustainable. As always, population growth has a marked influence on levels of consumption and the efficiency of resource use. The sustainability goal is to raise the global standard of living without increasing the use of resources beyond globally sustainable levels; that is, to not exceed “one planet” consumption. Information generated by reports at the national, regional and city scales confirm the global trend towards societies that are becoming less sustainable over time.

Romanian American economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, a progenitor in economics and a paradigm founder of ecological economics, has argued that the carrying capacity of Earth — that is, Earth’s capacity to sustain human populations and consumption levels — is bound to decrease sometime in the future as Earth’s finite stock of mineral resources is presently being extracted and put to use. Leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly, a student of Georgescu-Roegen, has propounded the same argument.

Global human impact on biodiversity

At a fundamental level energy flow and biogeochemical cycling set an upper limit on the number and mass of organisms in any ecosystem. Human impacts on the Earth are demonstrated in a general way through detrimental changes in the global biogeochemical cycles of chemicals that are critical to life, most notably those of water, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an international synthesis by over 1000 of the world’s leading biological scientists that analyzes the state of the Earth’s ecosystems and provides summaries and guidelines for decision-makers. It concludes that human activity is having a significant and escalating impact on the biodiversity of world ecosystems, reducing both their resilience and biocapacity. The report refers to natural systems as humanity’s “life-support system”, providing essential “ecosystem services”. The assessment measures 24 ecosystem services concluding that only four have shown improvement over the last 50 years, 15 are in serious decline, and five are in a precarious condition.

Sustainable development goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the current harmonized set of seventeen future international development targets.

The Official Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted on 25 September 2015 has 92 paragraphs, with the main paragraph (51) outlining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its associated 169 targets. This included the following seventeen goals:

Poverty – End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Food – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Health – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Women – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Water – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Energy – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Economy – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Inequality – Reduce inequality within and among countries

Habitation – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Consumption – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Climate – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Marine-ecosystems – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Ecosystems – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Institutions – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Sustainability – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

As of August 2015, there were 169 proposed targets for these goals and 304 proposed indicators to show compliance.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired at the end of 2015. The MDGs were established in 2000 following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations. Adopted by the 189 United Nations member states at the time and more than twenty international organizations, these goals were advanced to help achieve the following sustainable development standards by 2015.

To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

To achieve universal primary education

To promote gender equality and empower women

To reduce child mortality

To improve maternal health

To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

To ensure environmental sustainability (one of the targets in this goal focuses on increasing sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation)

To develop a global partnership for development

Sustainable development

According to the data that member countries represented to the United Nations, Cuba was the only nation in the world in 2006 that met the World Wide Fund for Nature’s definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita, 1.5, and a Human Development Index of over 0.8, 0.855.

Environmental dimension

Healthy ecosystems provide vital goods and services to humans and other organisms. There are two major ways of reducing negative human impact and enhancing ecosystem services and the first of these is environmental management. This direct approach is based largely on information gained from earth science, environmental science and conservation biology. However, this is management at the end of a long series of indirect causal factors that are initiated by human consumption, so a second approach is through demand management of human resource use.

Management of human consumption of resources is an indirect approach based largely on information gained from economics. Herman Daly has suggested three broad criteria for ecological sustainability: renewable resources should provide a sustainable yield (the rate of harvest should not exceed the rate of regeneration); for non-renewable resources there should be equivalent development of renewable substitutes; waste generation should not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment.

Environmental management

At the global scale and in the broadest sense environmental management involves the oceans, freshwater systems, land and atmosphere, but following the sustainability principle of scale it can be equally applied to any ecosystem from a tropical rainforest to a home garden.

Atmosphere

At a March 2009 meeting of the Copenhagen Climate Council, 2,500 climate experts from 80 countries issued a keynote statement that there is now “no excuse” for failing to act on global warming and that without strong carbon reduction “abrupt or irreversible” shifts in climate may occur that “will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with”. Management of the global atmosphere now involves assessment of all aspects of the carbon cycle to identify opportunities to address human-induced climate change and this has become a major focus of scientific research because of the potential catastrophic effects on biodiversity and human communities (see Energy below).

Other human impacts on the atmosphere include the air pollution in cities, the pollutants including toxic chemicals like nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds and airborne particulate matter that produce photochemical smog and acid rain, and the chlorofluorocarbons that degrade the ozone layer. Anthropogenic particulates such as sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere reduce the direct irradiance and reflectance (albedo) of the Earth’s surface. Known as global dimming, the decrease is estimated to have been about 4% between 1960 and 1990 although the trend has subsequently reversed. Global dimming may have disturbed the global water cycle by reducing evaporation and rainfall in some areas. It also creates a cooling effect and this may have partially masked the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming.

Freshwater and oceans

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. Of this, 97.5% is the salty water of the oceans and only 2.5% freshwater, most of which is locked up in the Antarctic ice sheet. The remaining freshwater is found in glaciers, lakes, rivers, wetlands, the soil, aquifers and atmosphere. Due to the water cycle, fresh water supply is continually replenished by precipitation, however there is still a limited amount necessitating management of this resource. Awareness of the global importance of preserving water for ecosystem services has only recently emerged as, during the 20th century, more than half the world’s wetlands have been lost along with their valuable environmental services. Increasing urbanization pollutes clean water supplies and much of the world still does not have access to clean, safe water. Greater emphasis is now being placed on the improved management of blue (harvestable) and green (soil water available for plant use) water, and this applies at all scales of water management.

Ocean circulation patterns have a strong influence on climate and weather and, in turn, the food supply of both humans and other organisms. Scientists have warned of the possibility, under the influence of climate change, of a sudden alteration in circulation patterns of ocean currents that could drastically alter the climate in some regions of the globe. Ten per cent of the world’s population – about 600 million people – live in low-lying areas vulnerable to sea level rise.

Land use

Loss of biodiversity stems largely from the habitat loss and fragmentation produced by the human appropriation of land for development, forestry and agriculture as natural capital is progressively converted to man-made capital. Land use change is fundamental to the operations of the biosphere because alterations in the relative proportions of land dedicated to urbanisation, agriculture, forest, woodland, grassland and pasture have a marked effect on the global water, carbon and nitrogen biogeochemical cycles and this can impact negatively on both natural and human systems. At the local human scale, major sustainability benefits accrue from sustainable parks and gardens and green cities.

Since the Neolithic Revolution about 47% of the world’s forests have been lost to human use. Present-day forests occupy about a quarter of the world’s ice-free land with about half of these occurring in the tropics. In temperate and boreal regions forest area is gradually increasing (with the exception of Siberia), but deforestation in the tropics is of major concern.

Food is essential to life. Feeding more than seven billion human bodies takes a heavy toll on the Earth’s resources. This begins with the appropriation of about 38% of the Earth’s land surface and about 20% of its net primary productivity. Added to this are the resource-hungry activities of industrial agribusiness – everything from the crop need for irrigation water, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to the resource costs of food packaging, transport (now a major part of global trade) and retail. Environmental problems associated with industrial agriculture and agribusiness are now being addressed through such movements as sustainable agriculture, organic farming and more sustainable business practices.

Management of human consumption

The underlying driver of direct human impacts on the environment is human consumption. This impact is reduced by not only consuming less but by also making the full cycle of production, use and disposal more sustainable. Consumption of goods and services can be analysed and managed at all scales through the chain of consumption, starting with the effects of individual lifestyle choices and spending patterns, through to the resource demands of specific goods and services, the impacts of economic sectors, through national economies to the global economy. Analysis of consumption patterns relates resource use to the environmental, social and economic impacts at the scale or context under investigation. The ideas of embodied resource use (the total resources needed to produce a product or service), resource intensity, and resource productivity are important tools for understanding the impacts of consumption. Key resource categories relating to human needs are food, energy, materials and water.

In 2010, the International Resource Panel, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), published the first global scientific assessment on the impacts of consumption and production and identified priority actions for developed and developing countries. The study found that the most critical impacts are related to ecosystem health, human health and resource depletion. From a production perspective, it found that fossil-fuel combustion processes, agriculture and fisheries have the most important impacts. Meanwhile, from a final consumption perspective, it found that household consumption related to mobility, shelter, food and energy-using products cause the majority of life-cycle impacts of consumption.

Energy

The Sun’s energy, stored by plants (primary producers) during photosynthesis, passes through the food chain to other organisms to ultimately power all living processes. Since the industrial revolution the concentrated energy of the Sun stored in fossilized plants as fossil fuels has been a major driver of technology which, in turn, has been the source of both economic and political power. In 2007 climate scientists of the IPCC concluded that there was at least a 90% probability that atmospheric increase in CO2 was human-induced, mostly as a result of fossil fuel emissions but, to a lesser extent from changes in land use. Stabilizing the world’s climate will require high-income countries to reduce their emissions by 60–90% over 2006 levels by 2050 which should hold CO2 levels at 450–650 ppm from current levels of about 380 ppm. Above this level, temperatures could rise by more than 2 °C to produce “catastrophic” climate change. Reduction of current CO2 levels must be achieved against a background of global population increase and developing countries aspiring to energy-intensive high consumption Western lifestyles.

Reducing greenhouse emissions, is being tackled at all scales, ranging from tracking the passage of carbon through the carbon cycle to the commercialization of renewable energy, developing less carbon-hungry technology and transport systems and attempts by individuals to lead carbon neutral lifestyles by monitoring the fossil fuel use embodied in all the goods and services they use. Engineering of emerging technologies such as carbon-neutral fuel and energy storage systems such as power to gas, compressed air energy storage, and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are necessary to store power from transient renewable energy sources including emerging renewables such as airborne wind turbines.

Water

Water security and food security are inextricably linked. In the decade 1951–60 human water withdrawals were four times greater than the previous decade. This rapid increase resulted from scientific and technological developments impacting through the economy – especially the increase in irrigated land, growth in industrial and power sectors, and intensive dam construction on all continents. This altered the water cycle of rivers and lakes, affected their water quality and had a significant impact on the global water cycle. Currently towards 35% of human water use is unsustainable, drawing on diminishing aquifers and reducing the flows of major rivers: this percentage is likely to increase if climate change impacts become more severe, populations increase, aquifers become progressively depleted and supplies become polluted and unsanitary. From 1961 to 2001 water demand doubled — agricultural use increased by 75%, industrial use by more than 200%, and domestic use more than 400%. In the 1990s it was estimated that humans were using 40–50% of the globally available freshwater in the approximate proportion of 70% for agriculture, 22% for industry, and 8% for domestic purposes with total use progressively increasing.

Water efficiency is being improved on a global scale by increased demand management, improved infrastructure, improved water productivity of agriculture, minimising the water intensity (embodied water) of goods and services, addressing shortages in the non-industrialized world, concentrating food production in areas of high productivity, and planning for climate change, such as through flexible system design. A promising direction towards sustainable development is to design systems that are flexible and reversible. At the local level, people are becoming more self-sufficient by harvesting rainwater and reducing use of mains water.

Food

The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines a “sustainable food system” as “one that provides healthy food to meet current food needs while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can also provide food for generations to come with minimal negative impact to the environment. A sustainable food system also encourages local production and distribution infrastructures and makes nutritious food available, accessible, and affordable to all. Further, it is humane and just, protecting farmers and other workers, consumers, and communities.” Concerns about the environmental impacts of agribusiness and the stark contrast between the obesity problems of the Western world and the poverty and food insecurity of the developing world have generated a strong movement towards healthy, sustainable eating as a major component of overall ethical consumerism. The environmental effects of different dietary patterns depend on many factors, including the proportion of animal and plant foods consumed and the method of food production. The World Health Organization has published a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health report which was endorsed by the May 2004 World Health Assembly. It recommends the Mediterranean diet which is associated with health and longevity and is low in meat, rich in fruits and vegetables, low in added sugar and limited salt, and low in saturated fatty acids; the traditional source of fat in the Mediterranean is olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fat. The healthy rice-based Japanese diet is also high in carbohydrates and low in fat. Both diets are low in meat and saturated fats and high in legumes and other vegetables; they are associated with a low incidence of ailments and low environmental impact.

At the global level the environmental impact of agribusiness is being addressed through sustainable agriculture and organic farming. At the local level there are various movements working towards local food production, more productive use of urban wastelands and domestic gardens including permaculture, urban horticulture, local food, slow food, sustainable gardening, and organic gardening.

Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired. The sustainable seafood movement has gained momentum as more people become aware about both overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods.

Materials, toxic substances, waste

As global population and affluence has increased, so has the use of various materials increased in volume, diversity and distance transported. Included here are raw materials, minerals, synthetic chemicals (including hazardous substances), manufactured products, food, living organisms and waste. By 2050, humanity could consume an estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year (three times its current amount) unless the economic growth rate is decoupled from the rate of natural resource consumption. Developed countries’ citizens consume an average of 16 tons of those four key resources per capita, ranging up to 40 or more tons per person in some developed countries with resource consumption levels far beyond what is likely sustainable.

Sustainable use of materials has targeted the idea of dematerialization, converting the linear path of materials (extraction, use, disposal in landfill) to a circular material flow that reuses materials as much as possible, much like the cycling and reuse of waste in nature. This approach is supported by product stewardship and the increasing use of material flow analysis at all levels, especially individual countries and the global economy. The use of sustainable biomaterials that come from renewable sources and that can be recycled is preferred to the use on non-renewables from a life cycle standpoint.

Synthetic chemical production has escalated following the stimulus it received during the second World War. Chemical production includes everything from herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to domestic chemicals and hazardous substances. Apart from the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, chemicals of particular concern include: heavy metals, nuclear waste, chlorofluorocarbons, persistent organic pollutants and all harmful chemicals capable of bioaccumulation. Although most synthetic chemicals are harmless there needs to be rigorous testing of new chemicals, in all countries, for adverse environmental and health effects. International legislation has been established to deal with the global distribution and management of dangerous goods. The effects of some chemical agents needed long-term measurements and a lot of legal battles to realize their danger to human health. The classification of the toxic carcinogenic agents is handle by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Every economic activity produces material that can be classified as waste. To reduce waste, industry, business and government are now mimicking nature by turning the waste produced by industrial metabolism into resource. Dematerialization is being encouraged through the ideas of industrial ecology, ecodesign and ecolabelling. In addition to the well-established “reduce, reuse and recycle,” shoppers are using their purchasing power for ethical consumerism.

The European Union is expected to table by the end of 2015 an ambitious Circular Economy package which is expected to include concrete legislative proposals on waste management, ecodesign and limits on land fills.

Economic dimension

On one account, sustainability “concerns the specification of a set of actions to be taken by present persons that will not diminish the prospects of future persons to enjoy levels of consumption, wealth, utility, or welfare comparable to those enjoyed by present persons.” Sustainability interfaces with economics through the social and ecological consequences of economic activity. Sustainability economics represents: “… a broad interpretation of ecological economics where environmental and ecological variables and issues are basic but part of a multidimensional perspective. Social, cultural, health-related and monetary/financial aspects have to be integrated into the analysis.” However, the concept of sustainability is much broader than the concepts of sustained yield of welfare, resources, or profit margins. At present, the average per capita consumption of people in the developing world is sustainable but population numbers are increasing and individuals are aspiring to high-consumption Western lifestyles. The developed world population is only increasing slightly but consumption levels are unsustainable. The challenge for sustainability is to curb and manage Western consumption while raising the standard of living of the developing world without increasing its resource use and environmental impact. This must be done by using strategies and technology that break the link between, on the one hand, economic growth and on the other, environmental damage and resource depletion.

A recent UNEP report proposes a green economy defined as one that “improves human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”: it “does not favor one political perspective over another but works to minimize excessive depletion of natural capital”. The report makes three key findings: “that greening not only generates increases in wealth, in particular a gain in ecological commons or natural capital, but also (over a period of six years) produces a higher rate of GDP growth”; that there is “an inextricable link between poverty eradication and better maintenance and conservation of the ecological commons, arising from the benefit flows from natural capital that are received directly by the poor”; “in the transition to a green economy, new jobs are created, which in time exceed the losses in “brown economy” jobs. However, there is a period of job losses in transition, which requires investment in re-skilling and re-educating the workforce”.

Several key areas have been targeted for economic analysis and reform: the environmental effects of unconstrained economic growth; the consequences of nature being treated as an economic externality; and the possibility of an economics that takes greater account of the social and environmental consequences of market behavior.

Decoupling environmental degradation and economic growth

Historically there has been a close correlation between economic growth and environmental degradation: as communities grow, so the environment declines. This trend is clearly demonstrated on graphs of human population numbers, economic growth, and environmental indicators. Unsustainable economic growth has been starkly compared to the malignant growth of a cancer because it eats away at the Earth’s ecosystem services which are its life-support system. There is concern that, unless resource use is checked, modern global civilization will follow the path of ancient civilizations that collapsed through overexploitation of their resource base. While conventional economics is concerned largely with economic growth and the efficient allocation of resources, ecological economics has the explicit goal of sustainable scale (rather than continual growth), fair distribution and efficient allocation, in that order. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development states that “business cannot succeed in societies that fail”.

In economic and environmental fields, the term decoupling is becoming increasingly used in the context of economic production and environmental quality. When used in this way, it refers to the ability of an economy to grow without incurring corresponding increases in environmental pressure. Ecological economics includes the study of societal metabolism, the throughput of resources that enter and exit the economic system in relation to environmental quality. An economy that is able to sustain GDP growth without having a negative impact on the environment is said to be decoupled. Exactly how, if, or to what extent this can be achieved is a subject of much debate. In 2011 the International Resource Panel, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), warned that by 2050 the human race could be devouring 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year – three times its current rate of consumption – unless nations can make serious attempts at decoupling. The report noted that citizens of developed countries consume an average of 16 tons of those four key resources per capita per annum (ranging up to 40 or more tons per person in some developed countries). By comparison, the average person in India today consumes four tons per year. Sustainability studies analyse ways to reduce resource intensity (the amount of resource (e.g. water, energy, or materials) needed for the production, consumption and disposal of a unit of good or service) whether this be achieved from improved economic management, product design, or new technology.

There are conflicting views whether improvements in technological efficiency and innovation will enable a complete decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation. On the one hand, it has been claimed repeatedly by efficiency experts that resource use intensity (i.e., energy and materials use per unit GDP) could in principle be reduced by at least four or five-fold, thereby allowing for continued economic growth without increasing resource depletion and associated pollution. On the other hand, an extensive historical analysis of technological efficiency improvements has conclusively shown that improvements in the efficiency of the use of energy and materials were almost always outpaced by economic growth, in large part because of the rebound effect (conservation) or Jevons Paradox resulting in a net increase in resource use and associated pollution. Furthermore, there are inherent thermodynamic (i.e., second law of thermodynamics) and practical limits to all efficiency improvements. For example, there are certain minimum unavoidable material requirements for growing food, and there are limits to making automobiles, houses, furniture, and other products lighter and thinner without the risk of losing their necessary functions. Since it is both theoretically and practically impossible to increase resource use efficiencies indefinitely, it is equally impossible to have continued and infinite economic growth without a concomitant increase in resource depletion and environmental pollution, i.e., economic growth and resource depletion can be decoupled to some degree over the short run but not the long run. Consequently, long-term sustainability requires the transition to a steady state economy in which total GDP remains more or less constant, as has been advocated for decades by Herman Daly and others in the ecological economics community.

A different proposed solution to partially decouple economic growth from environmental degradation is the restore approach. This approach views “restore” as a fourth component to the common reduce, reuse, recycle motto. Participants in such efforts are encouraged to voluntarily donate towards nature conservation a small fraction of the financial savings they experience through a more frugal use of resources. These financial savings would normally lead to rebound effects, but a theoretical analysis suggests that donating even a small fraction of the experienced savings can potentially more than eliminate rebound effects.

Nature as an economic externality

The economic importance of nature is indicated by the use of the expression ecosystem services to highlight the market relevance of an increasingly scarce natural world that can no longer be regarded as both unlimited and free. In general, as a commodity or service becomes more scarce the price increases and this acts as a restraint that encourages frugality, technical innovation and alternative products. However, this only applies when the product or service falls within the market system. As ecosystem services are generally treated as economic externalities they are unpriced and therefore overused and degraded, a situation sometimes referred to as the Tragedy of the Commons.

One approach to this dilemma has been the attempt to “internalize” these “externalities” by using market strategies like ecotaxes and incentives, tradeable permits for carbon, and the encouragement of payment for ecosystem services. Community currencies associated with Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), a gift economy and Time Banking have also been promoted as a way of supporting local economies and the environment. Green economics is another market-based attempt to address issues of equity and the environment. The global recession and a range of associated government policies are likely to bring the biggest annual fall in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in 40 years.

Economic opportunity

Treating the environment as an externality may generate short-term profit at the expense of sustainability. Sustainable business practices, on the other hand, integrate ecological concerns with social and economic ones (i.e., the triple bottom line). Growth that depletes ecosystem services is sometimes termed “uneconomic growth” as it leads to a decline in quality of life. Minimizing such growth can provide opportunities for local businesses. For example, industrial waste can be treated as an “economic resource in the wrong place”. The benefits of waste reduction include savings from disposal costs, fewer environmental penalties, and reduced liability insurance. This may lead to increased market share due to an improved public image. Energy efficiency can also increase profits by reducing costs.

The idea of sustainability as a business opportunity has led to the formation of organizations such as the Sustainability Consortium of the Society for Organizational Learning, the Sustainable Business Institute, and the World Council for Sustainable Development. The expansion of sustainable business opportunities can contribute to job creation through the introduction of green-collar workers. Research focusing on progressive corporate leaders who have integrated sustainability into commercial strategy has yielded a leadership competency model for sustainability, and led to emergence of the concept of “embedded sustainability” – defined by its authors Chris Laszlo and Nadya Zhexembayeva as “incorporation of environmental, health, and social value into the core business with no trade-off in price or quality – in other words, with no social or green premium.” Laszlo and Zhexembayeva’s research showed that embedded sustainability offers at least seven distinct opportunities for business value creation: a) better risk-management, b) increased efficiency through reduced waste and resource use, c) better product differentiation, d) new market entrances, e) enhanced brand and reputation, f) greater opportunity to influence industry standards, and g) greater opportunity for radical innovation. Nadya Zhexembayeva’s 2014 research further suggested that innovation driven by resource depletion can result in fundamental advantages for company products and services, as well as the company strategy as a whole, when right principles of innovation are applied.

Ecosocialist approach

One school of thought, often labeled ecosocialism or ecological Marxism, asserts that the capitalist economic system is fundamentally incompatible with the ecological and social requirements of sustainability. This theory rests on the premises that:

Capitalism’s sole economic purpose is “unlimited capital accumulation” in the hands of the capitalist class

The urge to accumulate (the profit motive) drives capitalists to continually reinvest and expand production, creating indefinite and unsustainable economic growth

“Capital tends to degrade the conditions of its own production” (the ecosystems and resources on which any economy depends)

Thus, according to this analysis:

Giving economic priority to the fulfillment of human needs while staying within ecological limits, as sustainable development demands, is in conflict with the structural workings of capitalism

A steady-state capitalist economy is impossible; further, a steady-state capitalist economy is socially undesirable due to the inevitable outcome of massive unemployment and underemployment

Capitalism will, unless overcome by revolution, run up against the physical limits of the biosphere and self-destruct

By this logic, market-based solutions to ecological crises (ecological economics, environmental economics, green economy) are rejected as technical tweaks that do not confront capitalism’s structural failures. “Low-risk” technology/science-based solutions such as solar power, sustainable agriculture, and increases in energy efficiency are seen as necessary but insufficient. “High-risk” technological solutions such as nuclear power and climate engineering are entirely rejected. Attempts made by businesses to “greenwash” their practices are regarded as false advertising, and it is pointed out that implementation of renewable technology (such as Walmart’s proposition to supply their electricity with solar power) has the effect opposite of reductions in resource consumption, viz. further economic growth. Sustainable business models and the triple bottom line are viewed as morally praiseworthy but ignorant to the tendency in capitalism for the distribution of wealth to become increasingly unequal and socially unstable/unsustainable. Ecosocialists claim that the general unwillingness of capitalists to tolerate—and capitalist governments to implement—constraints on maximum profit (such as ecotaxes or preservation and conservation measures) renders environmental reforms incapable of facilitating large-scale change: “History teaches us that although capitalism has at times responded to environmental movements . . . at a certain point, at which the system’s underlying accumulation drive is affected, its resistance to environmental demands stiffens.” They also note that, up until the event of total ecological collapse, destruction caused by natural disasters generally causes an increase in economic growth and accumulation; thus, capitalists have no foreseeable motivation to reduce the probability of disasters (i.e. convert to sustainable/ecological production).

Ecosocialists advocate for the revolutionary succession of capitalism by ecosocialism—an egalitarian economic/political/social structure designed to harmonize human society with non-human ecology and to fulfill human needs—as the only sufficient solution to the present-day ecological crisis, and hence the only path towards sustainability. Sustainability is viewed not as a domain exclusive to scientists, environmental activists, and business leaders but as a holistic project that must involve the whole of humanity redefining its place in Nature: “What every environmentalist needs to know . . . is that capitalism is not the solution but the problem, and that if humanity is going to survive this crisis, it will do so because it has exercised its capacity for human freedom, through social struggle, in order to create a whole new world—in coevolution with the planet.”

Social dimension

Sustainability issues are generally expressed in scientific and environmental terms, as well as in ethical terms of stewardship, but implementing change is a social challenge that entails, among other things, international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. “The relationship between human rights and human development, corporate power and environmental justice, global poverty and citizen action, suggest that responsible global citizenship is an inescapable element of what may at first glance seem to be simply matters of personal consumer and moral choice.”

Peace, security, social justice

Social disruptions like war, crime and corruption divert resources from areas of greatest human need, damage the capacity of societies to plan for the future, and generally threaten human well-being and the environment. Broad-based strategies for more sustainable social systems include: improved education and the political empowerment of women, especially in developing countries; greater regard for social justice, notably equity between rich and poor both within and between countries; and intergenerational equity. Depletion of natural resources including fresh water increases the likelihood of “resource wars”. This aspect of sustainability has been referred to as environmental security and creates a clear need for global environmental agreements to manage resources such as aquifers and rivers which span political boundaries, and to protect shared global systems including oceans and the atmosphere.

Poverty

A major hurdle to achieve sustainability is the alleviation of poverty. It has been widely acknowledged that poverty is one source of environmental degradation. Such acknowledgment has been made by the Brundtland Commission report Our Common Future and the Millennium Development Goals. There is a growing realization in national governments and multilateral institutions that it is impossible to separate economic development issues from environment issues: according to the Brundtland report, “poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality.” Individuals living in poverty tend to rely heavily on their local ecosystem as a source for basic needs (such as nutrition and medicine) and general well-being. As population growth continues to increase, increasing pressure is being placed on the local ecosystem to provide these basic essentials. According to the UN Population Fund, high fertility and poverty have been strongly correlated, and the world’s poorest countries also have the highest fertility and population growth rates. The word sustainability is also used widely by western country development agencies and international charities to focus their poverty alleviation efforts in ways that can be sustained by the local populace and its environment. For example, teaching water treatment to the poor by boiling their water with charcoal, would not generally be considered a sustainable strategy, whereas using PET solar water disinfection would be. Also, sustainable best practices can involve the recycling of materials, such as the use of recycled plastics for lumber where deforestation has devastated a country’s timber base. Another example of sustainable practices in poverty alleviation is the use of exported recycled materials from developed to developing countries, such as Bridges to Prosperity’s use of wire rope from shipping container gantry cranes to act as the structural wire rope for footbridges that cross rivers in poor rural areas in Asia and Africa.

Human relationship to nature

According to Murray Bookchin, the idea that humans must dominate nature is common in hierarchical societies. Bookchin contends that capitalism and market relationships, if unchecked, have the capacity to reduce the planet to a mere resource to be exploited. Nature is thus treated as a commodity: “The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital.” Social ecology, founded by Bookchin, is based on the conviction that nearly all of humanity’s present ecological problems originate in, indeed are mere symptoms of, dysfunctional social arrangements. Whereas most authors proceed as if our ecological problems can be fixed by implementing recommendations which stem from physical, biological, economic etc., studies, Bookchin’s claim is that these problems can only be resolved by understanding the underlying social processes and intervening in those processes by applying the concepts and methods of the social sciences.

A pure capitalist approach has also been criticized in Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change to mitigation the effects of global warming in this excerpt …

“the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen.”

Deep ecology is a movement founded by Arne Naess that establishes principles for the well-being of all life on Earth and the richness and diversity of life forms. The movement advocates, among other things, a substantial decrease in human population and consumption along with the reduction of human interference with the nonhuman world. To achieve this, deep ecologists advocate policies for basic economic, technological, and ideological structures that will improve the quality of life rather than the standard of living. Those who subscribe to these principles are obliged to make the necessary change happen. The concept of a billion-year Sustainocene has been developed to initiate policy consideration of an earth where human structures power and fuel the needs of that species (for example through artificial photosynthesis) allowing Rights of Nature.

Human settlements

One approach to sustainable living, exemplified by small-scale urban transition towns and rural ecovillages, seeks to create self-reliant communities based on principles of simple living, which maximize self-sufficiency particularly in food production. These principles, on a broader scale, underpin the concept of a bioregional economy. These approaches often utilize commons based knowledge sharing of open source appropriate technology.

Other approaches, loosely based around New Urbanism, are successfully reducing environmental impacts by altering the built environment to create and preserve sustainable cities which support sustainable transport. Residents in compact urban neighborhoods drive fewer miles, and have significantly lower environmental impacts across a range of measures, compared with those living in sprawling suburbs. In sustainable architecture the recent movement of New Classical Architecture promotes a sustainable approach towards construction, that appreciates and develops smart growth, architectural tradition and classical design. This in contrast to modernist and globally uniform architecture, as well as opposing solitary housing estates and suburban sprawl. Both trends started in the 1980s. The concept of Circular flow land use management has also been introduced in Europe to promote sustainable land use patterns that strive for compact cities and a reduction of greenfield land take by urban sprawl.

Large scale social movements can influence both community choices and the built environment. Eco-municipalities may be one such movement. Eco-municipalities take a systems approach, based on sustainability principles. The eco-municipality movement is participatory, involving community members in a bottom-up approach. In Sweden, more than 70 cities and towns—25 per cent of all municipalities in the country—have adopted a common set of “Sustainability Principles” and implemented these systematically throughout their municipal operations. There are now twelve eco-municipalities in the United States and the American Planning Association has adopted sustainability objectives based on the same principles.

There is a wealth of advice available to individuals wishing to reduce their personal and social impact on the environment through small, inexpensive and easily achievable steps. But the transition required to reduce global human consumption to within sustainable limits involves much larger changes, at all levels and contexts of society. The United Nations has recognised the central role of education, and have declared a decade of education for sustainable development, 2005–2014, which aims to “challenge us all to adopt new behaviours and practices to secure our future”. The Worldwide Fund for Nature proposes a strategy for sustainability that goes beyond education to tackle underlying individualistic and materialistic societal values head-on and strengthen people’s connections with the natural world.

Human and labor rights

Application of social sustainability requires stakeholders to look at human and labor rights, prevention of human trafficking, and other human rights risks. These issues should be considered in production and procurement of various worldwide commodities. The international community has identified many industries whose practices have been known to violate social sustainability, and many of these industries have organizations in place that aid in verifying the social sustainability of products and services. The Equator Principles (financial industry), Fair Wear Foundation (garments), and Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition are examples of such organizations and initiatives. Resources are also available for verifying the life-cycle of products and the producer or vendor level, such as Green Seal for cleaning products, NSF-140 for carpet production, and even labeling of Organic food in the United States.

See also

Bibliography of sustainability

List of sustainability topics

Outline of sustainability

Computational sustainability

Topics

References

Bibliography

Adams, W. M. and Jeanrenaud, S. J. (2008). Transition to Sustainability: Towards a Humane and Diverse World. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 108 pp. ISBN 978-2-8317-1072-3.

Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, 2005 (ISBN 1435266854).

Clarke, R. & King, J. (2006). The Atlas of Water. London: Earthscan. ISBN 978-1-84407-133-3.

Kovel, J. (2007). The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World?. New York, NY: Zed Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84277-871-5.

Krebs, C.J. (2001). Ecology: the Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance. Sydney: Benjamin Cummings. ISBN 0-321-04289-1.

Magdoff, F. & Foster, J.B. (2011). What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism: A Citizen’s Guide to Capitalism and the Environment. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press. ISBN 978-1-58367-241-9.

External links

Sustainability at DMOZ

technology

Technology (“science of craft”, from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines, computers, devices, and factories, which can be operated by individuals without detailed knowledge of the workings of such things.

The human species’ use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. The steady progress of military technology has brought weapons of ever-increasing destructive power, from clubs to nuclear weapons.

Technology has many effects. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today’s global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth’s environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar reactionary movements criticise the pervasiveness of technology in the modern world, arguing that it harms the environment and alienates people; proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism view continued technological progress as beneficial to society and the human condition.

Until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but 21st century scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and passed their knowledge to other generations.

Definition and usage

The use of the term “technology” has changed significantly over the last 200 years. Before the 20th century, the term was uncommon in English, and usually referred to the description or study of the useful arts. The term was often connected to technical education, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (chartered in 1861).

The term “technology” rose to prominence in the 20th century in connection with the Second Industrial Revolution. The term’s meanings changed in the early 20th century when American social scientists, beginning with Thorstein Veblen, translated ideas from the German concept of Technik into “technology.” In German and other European languages, a distinction exists between technik and technologie that is absent in English, which usually translates both terms as “technology.” By the 1930s, “technology” referred not only to the study of the industrial arts but to the industrial arts themselves.

In 1937, the American sociologist Read Bain wrote that “technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them.” Bain’s definition remains common among scholars today, especially social scientists, but equally prominent is the definition of technology as applied science, especially among scientists and engineers, although most social scientists who study technology reject this definition. More recently, scholars have borrowed from European philosophers of “technique” to extend the meaning of technology to various forms of instrumental reason, as in Foucault’s work on technologies of the self (techniques de soi).

Dictionaries and scholars have offered a variety of definitions. The Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary offers a definition of the term: “the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems” and “a machine, piece of equipment, method, etc., that is created by technology.” Ursula Franklin, in her 1989 “Real World of Technology” lecture, gave another definition of the concept; it is “practice, the way we do things around here.” The term is often used to imply a specific field of technology, or to refer to high technology or just consumer electronics, rather than technology as a whole. Bernard Stiegler, in Technics and Time, 1, defines technology in two ways: as “the pursuit of life by means other than life,” and as “organized inorganic matter.”

Technology can be most broadly defined as the entities, both material and immaterial, created by the application of mental and physical effort in order to achieve some value. In this usage, technology refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems. It is a far-reaching term that may include simple tools, such as a crowbar or wooden spoon, or more complex machines, such as a space station or particle accelerator. Tools and machines need not be material; virtual technology, such as computer software and business methods, fall under this definition of technology. W. Brian Arthur defines technology in a similarly broad way as “a means to fulfill a human purpose.”

The word “technology” can also be used to refer to a collection of techniques. In this context, it is the current state of humanity’s knowledge of how to combine resources to produce desired products, to solve problems, fulfill needs, or satisfy wants; it includes technical methods, skills, processes, techniques, tools and raw materials. When combined with another term, such as “medical technology” or “space technology,” it refers to the state of the respective field’s knowledge and tools. “State-of-the-art technology” refers to the high technology available to humanity in any field.

Technology can be viewed as an activity that forms or changes culture. Additionally, technology is the application of math, science, and the arts for the benefit of life as it is known. A modern example is the rise of communication technology, which has lessened barriers to human interaction and as a result has helped spawn new subcultures; the rise of cyberculture has at its basis the development of the Internet and the computer. Not all technology enhances culture in a creative way; technology can also help facilitate political oppression and war via tools such as guns. As a cultural activity, technology predates both science and engineering, each of which formalize some aspects of technological endeavor.

Science, engineering and technology

The distinction between science, engineering, and technology is not always clear. Science is systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. Technologies are not usually exclusively products of science, because they have to satisfy requirements such as utility, usability, and safety.

Engineering is the goal-oriented process of designing and making tools and systems to exploit natural phenomena for practical human means, often (but not always) using results and techniques from science. The development of technology may draw upon many fields of knowledge, including scientific, engineering, mathematical, linguistic, and historical knowledge, to achieve some practical result.

Technology is often a consequence of science and engineering, although technology as a human activity precedes the two fields. For example, science might study the flow of electrons in electrical conductors by using already-existing tools and knowledge. This new-found knowledge may then be used by engineers to create new tools and machines such as semiconductors, computers, and other forms of advanced technology. In this sense, scientists and engineers may both be considered technologists; the three fields are often considered as one for the purposes of research and reference.

The exact relations between science and technology in particular have been debated by scientists, historians, and policymakers in the late 20th century, in part because the debate can inform the funding of basic and applied science. In the immediate wake of World War II, for example, it was widely considered in the United States that technology was simply “applied science” and that to fund basic science was to reap technological results in due time. An articulation of this philosophy could be found explicitly in Vannevar Bush’s treatise on postwar science policy, Science—The Endless Frontier: “New products, new industries, and more jobs require continuous additions to knowledge of the laws of nature … This essential new knowledge can be obtained only through basic scientific research.” In the late-1960s, however, this view came under direct attack, leading towards initiatives to fund science for specific tasks (initiatives resisted by the scientific community). The issue remains contentious, though most analysts resist the model that technology simply is a result of scientific research.

History

Paleolithic (2.5 Ma – 10 ka)

The use of tools by early humans was partly a process of discovery and of evolution. Early humans evolved from a species of foraging hominids which were already bipedal, with a brain mass approximately one third of modern humans. Tool use remained relatively unchanged for most of early human history. Approximately 50,000 years ago, the use of tools and complex set of behaviors emerged, believed by many archaeologists to be connected to the emergence of fully modern language.

Stone tools

Hominids started using primitive stone tools millions of years ago. The earliest stone tools were little more than a fractured rock, but approximately 75,000 years ago, pressure flaking provided a way to make much finer work.

Fire

The discovery and utilization of fire, a simple energy source with many profound uses, was a turning point in the technological evolution of humankind. The exact date of its discovery is not known; evidence of burnt animal bones at the Cradle of Humankind suggests that the domestication of fire occurred before 1 Ma; scholarly consensus indicates that Homo erectus had controlled fire by between 500 and 400 ka. Fire, fueled with wood and charcoal, allowed early humans to cook their food to increase its digestibility, improving its nutrient value and broadening the number of foods that could be eaten.

Clothing and shelter

Other technological advances made during the Paleolithic era were clothing and shelter; the adoption of both technologies cannot be dated exactly, but they were a key to humanity’s progress. As the Paleolithic era progressed, dwellings became more sophisticated and more elaborate; as early as 380 ka, humans were constructing temporary wood huts. Clothing, adapted from the fur and hides of hunted animals, helped humanity expand into colder regions; humans began to migrate out of Africa by 200 ka and into other continents such as Eurasia.

Neolithic through classical antiquity (10 ka – 300 CE)

Man’s technological ascent began in earnest in what is known as the Neolithic Period (“New Stone Age”). The invention of polished stone axes was a major advance that allowed forest clearance on a large scale to create farms. Agriculture fed larger populations, and the transition to sedentism allowed simultaneously raising more children, as infants no longer needed to be carried, as nomadic ones must. Additionally, children could contribute labor to the raising of crops more readily than they could to the hunter-gatherer economy.

With this increase in population and availability of labor came an increase in labor specialization. What triggered the progression from early Neolithic villages to the first cities, such as Uruk, and the first civilizations, such as Sumer, is not specifically known; however, the emergence of increasingly hierarchical social structures and specialized labor, of trade and war amongst adjacent cultures, and the need for collective action to overcome environmental challenges such as irrigation, are all thought to have played a role.

Metal tools

Continuing improvements led to the furnace and bellows and provided the ability to smelt and forge native metals (naturally occurring in relatively pure form). Gold, copper, silver, and lead, were such early metals. The advantages of copper tools over stone, bone, and wooden tools were quickly apparent to early humans, and native copper was probably used from near the beginning of Neolithic times (about 10 ka). Native copper does not naturally occur in large amounts, but copper ores are quite common and some of them produce metal easily when burned in wood or charcoal fires. Eventually, the working of metals led to the discovery of alloys such as bronze and brass (about 4000 BCE). The first uses of iron alloys such as steel dates to around 1800 BCE.

Energy and transport

Meanwhile, humans were learning to harness other forms of energy. The earliest known use of wind power is the sailboat; the earliest record of a ship under sail is that of a Nile boat that dates back to the 8th millenium BCE. From prehistoric times, Egyptians probably used the power of the annual flooding of the Nile to irrigate their lands, gradually learning to regulate much of it through purposely built irrigation channels and “catch” basins. Similarly, the early peoples of Mesopotamia, the Sumerians, learned to use the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers for much the same purposes. However, more extensive use of wind and water (and even human) power required another invention.

According to archaeologists, the wheel was invented around 4000 BCE probably independently and nearly simultaneously in Mesopotamia (in present-day Iraq), the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture) and Central Europe. Estimates on when this may have occurred range from 5500 to 3000 BCE with most experts putting it closer to 4000 BCE. The oldest artifacts with drawings that depict wheeled carts date from about 3500 BCE; however, the wheel may have been in use for millennia before these drawings were made. There is also evidence from the same period for the use of the potter’s wheel. More recently, the oldest-known wooden wheel in the world was found in the Ljubljana marshes of Slovenia.

The invention of the wheel revolutionized trade and war. It did not take long to discover that wheeled wagons could be used to carry heavy loads. Fast (rotary) potters’ wheels enabled early mass production of pottery, but it was the use of the wheel as a transformer of energy (through water wheels, windmills, and even treadmills) that revolutionized the application of nonhuman power sources.

Medieval and modern history (300 CE – present)

Innovations continued through the Middle Ages with innovations such as silk, the horse collar and horseshoes in the first few hundred years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Medieval technology saw the use of simple machines (such as the lever, the screw, and the pulley) being combined to form more complicated tools, such as the wheelbarrow, windmills and clocks. The Renaissance brought forth many of these innovations, including the printing press (which facilitated the greater communication of knowledge), and technology became increasingly associated with science, beginning a cycle of mutual advancement. The advancements in technology in this era allowed a more steady supply of food, followed by the wider availability of consumer goods.

Starting in the United Kingdom in the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution was a period of great technological discovery, particularly in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, mining, metallurgy, and transport, driven by the discovery of steam power. Technology took another step in a second industrial revolution with the harnessing of electricity to create such innovations as the electric motor, light bulb, and countless others. Scientific advancement and the discovery of new concepts later allowed for powered flight and advancements in medicine, chemistry, physics, and engineering. The rise in technology has led to skyscrapers and broad urban areas whose inhabitants rely on motors to transport them and their food supply. Communication was also greatly improved with the invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio and television. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a revolution in transportation with the invention of the airplane and automobile.

The 20th century brought a host of innovations. In physics, the discovery of nuclear fission has led to both nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Computers were also invented and later miniaturized utilizing transistors and integrated circuits. Information technology subsequently led to the creation of the Internet, which ushered in the current Information Age. Humans have also been able to explore space with satellites (later used for telecommunication) and in manned missions going all the way to the moon. In medicine, this era brought innovations such as open-heart surgery and later stem cell therapy along with new medications and treatments.

Complex manufacturing and construction techniques and organizations are needed to make and maintain these new technologies, and entire industries have arisen to support and develop succeeding generations of increasingly more complex tools. Modern technology increasingly relies on training and education — their designers, builders, maintainers, and users often require sophisticated general and specific training. Moreover, these technologies have become so complex that entire fields have been created to support them, including engineering, medicine, and computer science, and other fields have been made more complex, such as construction, transportation and architecture.

Philosophy

Technicism

Generally, technicism is the belief in the utility of technology for improving human societies. Taken to an extreme, technicism “reflects a fundamental attitude which seeks to control reality, to resolve all problems with the use of scientific-technological methods and tools.” In other words, human beings will someday be able to master all problems and possibly even control the future using technology. Some, such as Stephen V. Monsma, connect these ideas to the abdication of religion as a higher moral authority.

Optimism

Optimistic assumptions are made by proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and singularitarianism, which view technological development as generally having beneficial effects for the society and the human condition. In these ideologies, technological development is morally good.

Transhumanists generally believe that the point of technology is to overcome barriers, and that what we commonly refer to as the human condition is just another barrier to be surpassed.

Singularitarians believe in some sort of “accelerating change”; that the rate of technological progress accelerates as we obtain more technology, and that this will culminate in a “Singularity” after artificial general intelligence is invented in which progress is nearly infinite; hence the term. Estimates for the date of this Singularity vary, but prominent futurist Ray Kurzweil estimates the Singularity will occur in 2045.

Kurzweil is also known for his history of the universe in six epochs: (1) the physical/chemical epoch, (2) the life epoch, (3) the human/brain epoch, (4) the technology epoch, (5) the artificial intelligence epoch, and (6) the universal colonization epoch. Going from one epoch to the next is a Singularity in its own right, and a period of speeding up precedes it. Each epoch takes a shorter time, which means the whole history of the universe is one giant Singularity event.

Some critics see these ideologies as examples of scientism and techno-utopianism and fear the notion of human enhancement and technological singularity which they support. Some have described Karl Marx as a techno-optimist.

Skepticism and critics

On the somewhat skeptical side are certain philosophers like Herbert Marcuse and John Zerzan, who believe that technological societies are inherently flawed. They suggest that the inevitable result of such a society is to become evermore technological at the cost of freedom and psychological health.

Many, such as the Luddites and prominent philosopher Martin Heidegger, hold serious, although not entirely, deterministic reservations about technology (see “The Question Concerning Technology”). According to Heidegger scholars Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Spinosa, “Heidegger does not oppose technology. He hopes to reveal the essence of technology in a way that ‘in no way confines us to a stultified compulsion to push on blindly with technology or, what comes to the same thing, to rebel helplessly against it.’ Indeed, he promises that ‘when we once open ourselves expressly to the essence of technology, we find ourselves unexpectedly taken into a freeing claim.’ What this entails is a more complex relationship to technology than either techno-optimists or techno-pessimists tend to allow.”

Some of the most poignant criticisms of technology are found in what are now considered to be dystopian literary classics such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. In Goethe’s Faust, Faust selling his soul to the devil in return for power over the physical world is also often interpreted as a metaphor for the adoption of industrial technology. More recently, modern works of science fiction such as those by Philip K. Dick and William Gibson and films such as Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell project highly ambivalent or cautionary attitudes toward technology’s impact on human society and identity.

The late cultural critic Neil Postman distinguished tool-using societies from technological societies and from what he called “technopolies,” societies that are dominated by the ideology of technological and scientific progress to the exclusion or harm of other cultural practices, values and world-views.

Darin Barney has written about technology’s impact on practices of citizenship and democratic culture, suggesting that technology can be construed as (1) an object of political debate, (2) a means or medium of discussion, and (3) a setting for democratic deliberation and citizenship. As a setting for democratic culture, Barney suggests that technology tends to make ethical questions, including the question of what a good life consists in, nearly impossible, because they already give an answer to the question: a good life is one that includes the use of more and more technology.

Nikolas Kompridis has also written about the dangers of new technology, such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and robotics. He warns that these technologies introduce unprecedented new challenges to human beings, including the possibility of the permanent alteration of our biological nature. These concerns are shared by other philosophers, scientists and public intellectuals who have written about similar issues (e.g. Francis Fukuyama, Jürgen Habermas, William Joy, and Michael Sandel).

Another prominent critic of technology is Hubert Dreyfus, who has published books such as On the Internet and What Computers Still Can’t Do.

A more infamous anti-technological treatise is Industrial Society and Its Future, written by the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and printed in several major newspapers (and later books) as part of an effort to end his bombing campaign of the techno-industrial infrastructure.

Appropriate technology

The notion of appropriate technology was developed in the 20th century by thinkers such as E. F. Schumacher and Jacques Ellul to describe situations where it was not desirable to use very new technologies or those that required access to some centralized infrastructure or parts or skills imported from elsewhere. The ecovillage movement emerged in part due to this concern.

Optimism and skepticism in the 21st century

This section mainly focuses on American concerns even if it can reasonably be generalized to other Western countries.

The inadequate quantity and quality of American jobs is one of the most fundamental economic challenges we face. […] What’s the linkage between technology and this fundamental problem?

In his article, Jared Bernstein, a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, questions the widespread idea that automation, and more broadly, technological advances, have mainly contributed to this growing labor market problem. His thesis appears to be a third way between optimism and skepticism. Essentially, he stands for a neutral approach of the linkage between technology and American issues concerning unemployment and declining wages.

He uses two main arguments to defend his point. First, because of recent technological advances, an increasing number of workers are losing their jobs. Yet, scientific evidence fails to clearly demonstrate that technology has displaced so many workers that it has created more problems than it has solved. Indeed, automation threatens repetitive jobs but higher-end jobs are still necessary because they complement technology and manual jobs that “requires flexibility judgment and common sense” remain hard to replace with machines. Second, studies have not shown clear links between recent technology advances and the wage trends of the last decades.

Therefore, according to Bernstein, instead of focusing on technology and its hypothetical influences on current American increasing unemployment and declining wages, one needs to worry more about “bad policy that fails to offset the imbalances in demand, trade, income and opportunity.”

Complex technological systems

Thomas P. Hughes stated that because technology has been considered as a key way to solve problems, we need to be aware of its complex and varied characters to use it more efficiently. What is the difference between a wheel or a compass and cooking machines such as an oven or a gas stove? Can we consider all of them, only a part of them, or none of them as technologies?

Technology is often considered too narrowly; according to Hughes, “Technology is a creative process involving human ingenuity. This definition’s emphasis on creativity avoids unbounded definitions that may mistakenly include cooking “technologies,” but it also highlights the prominent role of humans and therefore their responsibilities for the use of complex technological systems.

Yet, because technology is everywhere and has dramatically changed landscapes and societies, Hughes argues that engineers, scientists, and managers have often believed that they can use technology to shape the world as they want. They have often supposed that technology is easily controllable and this assumption has to be thoroughly questioned. For instance, Evgeny Morozov particularly challenges two concepts: “Internet-centrism” and “solutionism.” Internet-centrism refers to the idea that our society is convinced that the Internet is one of the most stable and coherent forces. Solutionism is the ideology that every social issue can be solved thanks to technology and especially thanks to the internet. In fact, technology intrinsically contains uncertainties and limitations. According to Alexis Madrigal’s review of Morozov’s theory, to ignore it will lead to “unexpected consequences that could eventually cause more damage than the problems they seek to address.” Benjamin R. Cohen and Gwen Ottinger also discussed the multivalent effects of technology.

Therefore, recognition of the limitations of technology, and more broadly, scientific knowledge, is needed — especially in cases dealing with environmental justice and health issues. Ottinger continues this reasoning and argues that the ongoing recognition of the limitations of scientific knowledge goes hand in hand with scientists and engineers’ new comprehension of their role. Such an approach of technology and science “[require] technical professionals to conceive of their roles in the process differently. [They have to consider themselves as] collaborators in research and problem solving rather than simply providers of information and technical solutions.”

Competitiveness

Technology is properly defined as any application of science to accomplish a function. The science can be leading edge or well established and the function can have high visibility or be significantly more mundane, but it is all technology, and its exploitation is the foundation of all competitive advantage.

Technology-based planning is what was used to build the US industrial giants before WWII (e.g., Dow, DuPont, GM) and it is what was used to transform the US into a superpower. It was not economic-based planning.

Project Socrates

In 1983 Project Socrates was initiated in the US intelligence community to determine the source of declining US economic and military competitiveness. Project Socrates concluded that technology exploitation is the foundation of all competitive advantage and that declining US competitiveness was from decision-making in the private and public sectors switching from technology exploitation (technology-based planning) to money exploitation (economic-based planning) at the end of World War II.

Project Socrates determined that to rebuild US competitiveness, decision making throughout the US had to readopt technology-based planning. Project Socrates also determined that countries like China and India had continued executing technology-based (while the US took its detour into economic-based) planning, and as a result had considerably advanced the process and were using it to build themselves into superpowers. To rebuild US competitiveness the US decision-makers needed to adopt a form of technology-based planning that was far more advanced than that used by China and India.

Project Socrates determined that technology-based planning makes an evolutionary leap forward every few hundred years and the next evolutionary leap, the Automated Innovation Revolution, was poised to occur. In the Automated Innovation Revolution the process for determining how to acquire and utilize technology for a competitive advantage (which includes R&D) is automated so that it can be executed with unprecedented speed, efficiency and agility.

Project Socrates developed the means for automated innovation so that the US could lead the Automated Innovation Revolution in order to rebuild and maintain the country’s economic competitiveness for many generations.

Other animal species

The use of basic technology is also a feature of other animal species apart from humans. These include primates such as chimpanzees, some dolphin communities, and crows. Considering a more generic perspective of technology as ethology of active environmental conditioning and control, we can also refer to animal examples such as beavers and their dams, or bees and their honeycombs.

The ability to make and use tools was once considered a defining characteristic of the genus Homo. However, the discovery of tool construction among chimpanzees and related primates has discarded the notion of the use of technology as unique to humans. For example, researchers have observed wild chimpanzees utilising tools for foraging: some of the tools used include leaf sponges, termite fishing probes, pestles and levers. West African chimpanzees also use stone hammers and anvils for cracking nuts, as do capuchin monkeys of Boa Vista, Brazil.

Future technology

Theories of technology often attempt to predict the future of technology based on the high technology and science of the time. As with all predictions of the future, however, technology’s is uncertain.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that the future of technology will be mainly consist of an overlapping “GNR Revolution” of Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics, with robotics being the most important of the three.

See also

References

Further reading

Ambrose, Stanley H. (2 March 2001). “Paleolithic Technology and Human Evolution” (PDF). Science. Science. 291 (5509): 1748–53. Bibcode:2001Sci…291.1748A. doi:10.1126/science.1059487. PMID 11249821. Retrieved 10 March 2007.

Huesemann, M.H., and J.A. Huesemann (2011). Technofix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment, New Society Publishers, ISBN 0865717044.

Kremer, Michael (1993). “Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990”. Quarterly Journal of Economics. The MIT Press. 108 (3): 681–716. doi:10.2307/2118405. JSTOR 2118405. .

Kevin Kelly. What Technology Wants. New York, Viking Press, 14 October 2010, hardcover, 416 pages. ISBN 978-0-670-02215-1

Mumford, Lewis. (2010). Technics and Civilization. University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226550273.

Rhodes, Richard. (2000). Visions of Technology: A Century of Vital Debate about Machines, Systems, and the Human World. Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0684863111.

Teich, A.H. (2008). Technology and the Future. Wadsworth Publishing, 11th edition, ISBN 0495570524.

Wright, R.T. (2008). Technology. Goodheart-Wilcox Company, 5th edition, ISBN 1590707184.

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