The CODE for Global Ethics


Linked on our blogs with Rodrigue Tremblay – Canada, and with Economy USA 2010: From the Scandalous Past to the Uncertain Future.

… Tremblay was president of the Association canadienne de science économique (1974-75) and of the North American Economics and Finance Association (1986-87). He was chairman of the Department of Economics of the University of Montreal (1973-76) ), member of the Committee of Dispute Settlements of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (1989-93) and vice-president of the Association internationale des économistes de langue française (AIELF), from 1999 to 2005 … (full text about).

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An excerpt from the Introduction: … Since our worldview affects how we interact with others, any moral code must be judged as to how its adherents treat other people and whether or not it improves people’s lives.

If the adherents treat others badly and their moral values reduce others’ quality of life, it is a bad moral code; if the adherents treat others with dignity and respect and their actions improve the lives of the greatest number, it is a good code of ethics. This is the ultimate pragmatic test of reality and results.

It would seem that there is not necessarily an irreconcilable antagonism between humanism as a universal philosophy and religion as a personal human experience1.  It is only when religion becomes an aggressive political movement that crushes human liberty and dignity that it becomes hostile to the humanist worldview. In other words, it is only when religion turns against humanity that there is a conflict between humanism and religion. The centuries-long Inquisition in Europe which was responsible for the deaths of thousands of individuals, guilty only of following their conscience and personal beliefs, is a good example of the kind of conflict that can arise between humanism and organized religion.

In the past, the principles espoused by organized religions were often intended to apply to a particular ethnic group, to members of a particular nationality, or to co-religionists and insiders of a religious denomination. In almost all cases, these moral principles were not meant to be universal, applicable to all humans without distinction of race, sex, language, or nationality—especially when it was a matter of politico-religious morality. It seems that, historically, religious or political leaders used religious laws and precepts to increase the social and political cohesion and unity of their own group or community, and its eventual survival, while at the same time emphasizing their differences with, and often their hostility towards, other groups and other communities. As South African archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu put it, “Religion is like a knife. If you use it to slice bread, it’s good. If you use it to slice off your neighbor’s arm, it’s bad.” Unfortunately, throughout history, the knife of religion has been used just as often to cut other people’s throats as to cut bread.

One can easily arrive at such a conclusion after reading the books that support the monotheist religions of Judaism (the Torah), Christianity (the Bible) and Islam (the Qur’an or Koran). History is replete with calls to kill in the name of some god. In these three professed revealed books, one discovers, for example, that while it is written, “do not kill,” what is really meant is do not kill the insiders or allies. But anything goes regarding the outsiders—the members of opposing religions or coalitions, the foreigners, the strangers, the infidels, the non-believers, the miscreants, the pagans, the enemies … (full text).

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