Valmynd Leit

The Cipolla-Jonas Diagram

Ecological Responsibility and Human Stupidity, Thirty Years After Allegro ma non troppo.

The diagram concocted by noted economic historian Carlo Cipolla with regard to stupidity is explained and applied here to the issue of responsibility, which is understood along the lines of the ethics devised in the 20thcentury by Hans Jonas, who is still considered by today’s moral philosophers a pivotal thinker on this issue. A disciple of Heidegger, Jonas brought responsibility and, relatedly, duty back to the centre of our understanding of morality, at a time when consequentialism, in the guise of a variety of forms of utilitarianism, was very much the focus of everybody's attention. Cipolla’s diagram, a witty piece of methodological and theoretical criticism in the social sciences, can be combined with Jonas’ life-grounded conception of responsibility in order to foster reflection on this issue, applicable to concrete social contexts, such as standard economic activity and the depletion of Earth’s life support systems.


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