Ethical compass

Ethical compass

“Healthy people and a healthy world”, every person generally agrees with that. But how should you act as an individual and collectively if you want to contribute to a situation of “healthy people and a healthy world”? What is the basis of your choices? There are many starting points to be found in literature and research. We will highlight two that have been important for the content of the documentEthical compass.

Justice: preventing trade-offs

Observation: a development is only healthy if trade-offs between the “here and now” and “elsewhere (in the world) and later (future generations)” are prevented. At the moment, the growth in prosperity in rich Western countries such as the Netherlands is accompanied by losses in other areas. The first trade-off is that prosperity in the “here and now” goes hand in hand with a decline in important natural resources in the Netherlands, as a result of which they are no longer available for “later”, future generations. A second trade-off is that prosperity in the “here and now” is accompanied by a high pressure on prosperity “elsewhere” in the world, particularly in developing countries, due to the relatively large import of raw materials. For more information on trade-off relations in for example the Netherlands, see the annual “Monitoring of well-being & the SDGs” of Statistics Netherlands (CBS), which describes how prosperity in the broad sense – economic, ecological, social – is developing in the Netherlands.

Not-knowing: absence of infallible indicator sets and data does not provide an ethical answer

Observation: there are no infallible indicator sets on which “just action” can be based and datasets do not tell what “just action” is. Reports such as the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Netherlands show that there are no infallible indicator sets. Much attention is paid to the selection of indicators, but recent, high quality data (valid, reliable, internationally comparable) is not available for all indicators. Moreover, good scientific datasets are as objective as possible. They provide information on the basis of which the individual and the collective (politics, society, business) can make choices about what “just action” is to achieve a situation of “healthy people and a healthy world”. Choices that are based on basic principles with an ethical dimension. The question is which basic principles would be best to follow if you want to contribute to the health of people and the planet?

Ethical compass “healthy people and a healthy world”

The Ethical compass “Healthy people and a healthy world” provides an answer to the ethical question: how should you as an individual and collectively act if you want to contribute to a situation of “healthy people and a healthy world”? In the document, we elaborate on what is meant by “healthy people” and a “healthy world” and what that means for the paradigm – frame of reference – from which we look at the world.