Ethical Imperative Meets Business Case

“There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely, this: Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”

Immanuel Kant, 1785[1]

Human self-restraint may serve human purposes better than human dominance of the biosphere can. Mankind derives benefits from ecosystems not dominated by man, benefits that may be unavailable from ecosystems man does dominate.

William Catton, 1980[2]

Anchoring Multicapitalism in the definition of “capital” grounded in the “ultimate end”[3] of well-being (“vital capital is a stock of anything that yields a flow of valuable goods or services important to human well-being”[4]) establishes an ethical underpinning to the doctrine. Furthermore, the third element of the Multicapitalism ontology (“other parties (i.e. stakeholders) whose well-being depends on the capitals”) introduces explicit accountability for how business impacts capitals — and others who rely on those capitals. Finally, the normative directive of managing organizational impacts on capitals in ways that preserve those capitals for use by other stakeholders who rely on them for their well-being (or what r3.0 calls “rightsholders,” as they have the fundamental right to well-being) further deepens the ethical foundations of Multicapitalism.

“There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely, this: Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”[7]

In other words, Kant asks us to ask ourselves, if everyone does as I do, will the outcome be just for all? If everyone consumes resources like I do, will there still be resources enough for all? Or am I exceeding my fair-share “slice of the pie” — which would require that someone else get less than their fair share — or that we need more than one pie. Mass balancing introduces discipline in recognizing that in closed systems (such as the earth), we have only one “pie,” suggesting we must share it fairly. Monocapitalism systemically encourages concentration of resources, whereas Multicapitalism systemically encourages preservation of resources for continued use by all who have a rightful claim to them.

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r3.0

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