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Latest info > News > Adela Cortina (Etnor Foundation): "For a society to be a moral society means that it has to be able to anticipate the future"


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25 / 07 / 2004
Adela Cortina (Etnor Foundation): "For a society to be a moral society means that it has to be able to anticipate the future"

This morning, the session took place on ethical wealth and development within the framework of the dialogue "Ethical Wealth of Nations. Values and Social Development."

The professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy of the University of Valencia and director of the ETNOR Foundation, Adela Cortina, explained to the public "the political, economic, and civic sectors can bring us closer to human dignity." In this respect, the political sector has to become a true government of the people and follow the criteria of justice. The economic sector, that provides wealth, has to act in an ethical fashion, and the civic center has to be caring and actively intervene in political and civil society. For Cortina, these three sectors need to have morals. "For a society to be moral means that it isn't a reactive society but rather one that anticipates the future," Cortina added.

Cortina also explained that society needs four types of capital in order to advance: physical, infrastructural, human, and social capital. For her, companies are capable of producing a good social capital if they have a good relationship with all the state holders, achieve internal benefits, save on expenses, and indirect benefits, generating a virtuous cycle of good acts in society. "If we all act immorally, we will become a part of a vicious immoral cycle, that is to say, I will not act morally if everyone else acts immorally," Cortina added.

The professor of ethics explained that "in the context of globalization, ethical companies are those that can resist the volatility and uncertainty of the markets."

Cortina pointed out that ethics try to mold the character, the predisposition to behave well, that is to say, virtues, or to behave poorly, vices. For Cortina, ethical wealth gives identity. "The moral of a nation, an organization, or a person, is based on the hierarchy of values which we choose and these have to be superior values such as freedom, equality, solidarity, and those which are useful for discussion," Cortina added.

Thomas J. Donaldson

The professor from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas J. Donaldson, explained "companies and nations are more prosperous and efficient if they take ethics seriously." In this sense, the groups that are linked to corporations "appreciate ethical behavior." For Donaldson, there are national ethics that "improve the imperfections of the market and prosper over the long term."

Donaldson pointed out that there are three indicating criteria of the ethics of nations. The first is a better distribution of primary goods, the second is collaboration, integrity, and the confidence in the transactions in society, and lastly, citizen's obligations. In this last instance, obligations refer to the respect of intellectual property, and the environment, rejection of bribery, and the providing of transparent information about the companies.