Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A proposed FLOW obligation:

Often when the flaws of existing do-gooders have been pointed out, the perception is that those who are criticizing the efforts of do-gooders are implicitly claiming that all is well and that no effort at improvements are needed.

Insofar as do-gooders rightly believe that not all is well, they feel that the critics of existing efforts to do good are not well-intentioned.

Ideally, therefore, we would cultivate the obligation to promote positive, constructive ways to solve problems every time that we criticize existing efforts to solve problems. This commitment would make it clear that we recognize that existing institutions and behaviors are far from perfect, and that we do believe the world can be made better.

If we do not do this, well-intentioned people will be inclined to continue to support misguided attempts at improving human well-being.

Some people have suggested, for instance, that the "socially responsible" criteria of the William James Institute may be flawed; one particular point is their hostility to hostile takeovers, because such a criteria for "socially responsible" is likely to protect incompetent management.

Ok - insofar as the William James' criteria may be flawed, are there a set of sensible criteria for differentiating good or "socially responsible" business practices from bad? What would those criteria be?


Blogger Richard Relph said...


I absolutely agree with the first 4 paragraphs of your post. I wish it had ended there.

By focusing the last two paragraphs on "socially responsible business practices", one may be led to conclude that is all you are writing about.

I believe your first 4 paragraphs apply equally to "economically responsible social practices" (especially those imposed by government). And probably several other kinds of institutions and practices.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Michael Strong said...

Richard, I absolutely agree with you. Indeed, I had a suspicion in the back of my mind that something was not quite adequate about those last paragraphs. Your correction is perfect. Thank you.

Best, Michael

6:27 AM  
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