Archive for December, 2009

Basics of Social Responsibility

December 5, 2009

My passion for water is built on biology as my craft. This combination has led my evolution of thought in this domain.

Humans live by their actions. A natural right of human individuals is that that have “Freedom of Action” to which I add and “Responsibility for our Actions”.

Responsibility to who or what? Self yes, but ultimately the biosphere. The biosphere was the source of our life and with whom we evolved a co-existence. We are coded with best practice for ensuring the continuity of our genetic material in that biosphere, through these imprinted codes, and “rules of thumb” passed down the generations, modified by the reality of the moment and the immediacy of our surroundings, as visioned by the five inbuilt senses. Cerebral activity, also coded, is the site for the integration of all the dimensions associated with our decisions and subsequent actions. Life in its entirety is coded.

The inherited code included the physiological needs base of Maslow (water, food, O2 etc) but also the social “self actualisation” he deduced we attained to. While the physiological coding may not have needed to change much to fit the current environment, the coded social (moral) instincts are confronted by a different scene due primarily to the combination of six billion humans, not just a few, and the consequences of their coded capacity for imagination and creativity.

The social dimension includes cooperation as a crucial factor in the evolution of humans to date and will be even more critical in the future. Social evolution toward eusociality and organismality are directions that have to be taken into account. Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom has worked to understand “common pool resources” and how self-organising and self-governing communities could evolve and exist. Central to this approach is the trust that individuals have in others and reciprocity norms. This appears to be different from a perceived necessity of a “competitive” environment for success, a preoccupation with land, labour and capital as the resources and “survival of the fittest”. With resource limits to growth, and the economic solution for individuals (or institutions) to own resources and to “price” the resources, there is inevitability, that the rich will grow richer and the poor poorer as has been witnessed by the slow dying of the middleclass in the USA and the North South divide. The evolution of the “in group” and the “out group” is not set in the genome.

The wellbeing of the individual is therefore framed by biological, intellectual, relationships, physical, and financial assets which for the community or business could be called named financial, physical, human, social and natural assets (or capital). To focus on one aspect in the short term will be to the detriment of the others and potentially to the disintegration of wellbeing of not only the individual and communities but the biosphere in the long term.

Water fits as a subset in this view of human wellbeing, albeit a necessity for the a fundamental aspect of humans, life itself. There is a need to dynamically quantify the physical entity water and include the information as part of everyone’s Cyberbrain but also to investigate new moral norms that may be required in the social space to responsibly manage biosphere water. This is our challenge. Final Presentation 1