Responsibility for Future Generations

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Responsibility for Future Generations.' , in The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, London, 2011.

The paper uses the argument by Hans Jonas that the ethics of responsibility involves not only the existence of future human beings but also the way they exist. The conditions of the existence of future generations should not cause their capacity of freedom and humanness to disappear. In the model developed by the author the state of ecological capital, financial capital, human capital and intellectual capital together determine the fate of future generations. Better the states of these capitals, better the prospects of future generations and vice versa.


Luk Bouckaert, Hendrick Opdebeeck, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Frugality.' , in The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, London, 2011.

The paper defines frugality as art de vivre, which implies low material consumption and a simple lifestyle, to open the mind for spiritual goods as inner freedom, social peace, justice or the quest for “ultimate reality.” The authors argue that realizing a genuine spirituality of frugality as self-detachment and other-centeredness does not exclude instrumental economic rationality. To be implemented, a spiritual-driven praxis of frugality needs always a rationally conceived business plan. And from a macro point of view, spiritually based frugal practices may lead to rational outcomes. 

The Ethics of Systems Thinking

Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Ethics of Systems Thinking.' , in Responsibility, Deep Ecology and the Self - Festschrift in Honor of Knut J. Ims. , eds. Ove Jacobsen, and Lars Jacob Tymes Pedersen, Forlag 1, Oslo, 2011.

The paper explores some ethical assumptions and implications of system thinking in reference to social and environmental decision making. The methodology of multi-criteria evaluation of complex systems is used as an illustration of the ethical agenda of systems thinking. 

Corporate Legitimacy

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Corporate Legitimacy .' , in Business Ethics and Corporate Sustainability, eds. Antonio Tencati, and Francesco Perrini, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, 2011. (This book may be available at: Edward Elgar)

The paper suggests that the Just War theory provides an excellent methodological device for determining the conditions of legitimacy of companies.  The Just War theory promotes the view that a specific war is just if satisfactory conditions are met. The Just War tradition addresses the morality of the use of force in two parts: when it is right to resort to armed force (the concern of “jus ad bellum”) and what is acceptable in using such force (the concern of “jus in bello”). In more recent years, a third category — “jus post bellum” — has been added, which governs the justice of war termination and peace agreements, as well as the trying of war criminals.

Why Buddhist Economics?

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Why Buddhist Economics?' , in Ethical Principles and Economic Transformation: A Buddhist Approach, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Spinger, 2011. (This book may be available at: Springer)

Buddhism and economics are seem to be far from one another. Many people think that Buddhism is an ascetic religion with no interest in worldly affairs. It is not true. Buddhism has a well developed social facet. Buddhists are often engaged in progressive social change. Buddhism poses a radical challenge for mainstream economics because denies the existence of the self. The Western way of life is centered on self-interest understood as satisfaction of the wishes of one’s body-mind ego. Buddhism challenges this view by a radically different conception, that is “anatta”, the “no-self”.

The Contributions of Buddhist Economics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Contributions of Buddhist Economics.' , in Ethical Principles and Economic Transformation: A Buddhist Approach, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Spinger, 2011. (This book may be available at: Spinger)

Buddhist economics can be seen as a radical alternative to the Western economic mindset. Western economics represents a maximizing framework. It wants to maximize profit, desires, market, instrumental use and self-interest, and tends to build a world where “bigger is better” and “more is more.”. Buddhist economics represents a minimizing framework where suffering, desires, violence, instrumental use and self-interest are minimized. This is why “small is beautiful” and “less is more” nicely express the essence of the Buddhist approach to economic questions.

Taking Spirituality Seriously

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Taking Spirituality Seriously.' , in Spirituality and Ethics in Management, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2011. (This book may be available at: Sringer)

The paper summarizes the main findings of research in ethics and spirituality to stimulate the development of a new agenda for spirituality and management. One facet of the agenda concentrates on practice: how businesses (and other organizations such as  universities, government entities, not-for-profit health organizations and so on) should be transformed into more inclusive, holistic and peaceful activity systems serving nature, society and future generations.  The other facet of the agenda concerns research: how to integrate spiritual experiences into the management profession.

Redefining Economic Reason

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Redefining Economic Reason.' , in Spiritual Humanism and Economic Wisdom, eds. Hendrik Opdebeeck, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Garant, Antwerpen and Apeldoom, 2011.

The paper gives a critique of the profit principle and redefines economic rationality in a more holistic, substantive and humanistic form. It argues that despite of Martin Heidegger’s warning not modern technology but modern economizing destroys the Being. With its exclusive focus on profit-making modern economizing endangers the integrity and diversity of natural ecosystems, autonomy and culture of local communities, and chances of future generations for a decent life.

Respect for Future Generations

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Respect for Future Generations.' , in Respect and Economic Democracy, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Paquale Arena, Grant, Antwerp/Appeldom, 2010. (This book may be available at: European SPES Forum)

Activities of present generations may affect the fate of future generations for the better or for the worse. What we do with our natural and cultural heritage mainly determines the way future generations may live their own life in the future. We as presently living human beings have an undeniable moral responsibility toward future human beings.The paper presents a methodology for assessing the impacts of present generations on the prospects of future generations.

The Collaborative Enterprise Framework

Antonio Tencati, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Collaborative Enterprise Framework.' , in The Collaborative Enterprise: Creating Values for a Sustainable World, eds. Antonio Tencati, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Peter Lang Academic Publishers, Oxford, 2010.

The paper aims to explore collaborative ways of doing business where enterprises seek to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with all stakeholders and want to produce sustainable values for their whole business ecosystems.  Based on the arguments developed by the Group of Lisbon, chaired by Riccardo Petrella, and the late London Business School professor Sumantra Ghoshal, we criticize the one-dimensional pursuit of competitiveness of contemporary business. We think that the exclusive focus on monetary results (especially short-term shareholder value) is detrimental for nature, society and future generations, and finally for business itself.  The strength and sustainability of enterprises come from their ability to fit into the environmental, social and cultural context in which they function. By creating values for all stakeholders, enterprises can involve them and gain deep support based on their commitment.