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Question 1: Ethics and Organizational Ethics

These works contributed significantly to the development of the Organizational Integrity approach. Arranged by importance to the topic rather than alphabetically or chronologically, they-and other works-may be secured through this site by arrangement with Amazon.com.

Ethics have Evolved:.

Probably one of the more remarkable writings in the last decade is Robert M. Pirsig's Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals. Pirsig proposes that there is a fundamental evolutionary structure he calls the Metaphysics of Quality, which shows that there is not just one moral system. There are many:

  • There's a morality of the "laws of nature," by which organic patterns triumph over chaos;
  • There is a morality called the "law of the jungle" where biology triumphs over the inorganic forces of starvation and death;
  • There's a morality where social patterns triumph over biology, the "law"; and
  • There is an intellectual morality, which is still struggling in its attempts to escape the control of society. (182-83)

Pirsig argues that, in general, when given a choice of two courses to follow, and all other things being equal, that choice that is more Dynamic, that is, at a higher level of evolution, is more moral. (183) An evolutionary morality says it is moral for intellect to seek to subjugate society, to escape from the constraints of society, but it also contains a warning: Just as a society that weakens its people's physical health endangers its own stability, so does an intellectual pattern that weakens and destroys the health of its social base also endanger its own stability.

Any static mechanism that is open to Dynamic Quality must also be open to degeneracy—to falling back to lower forms of quality. This creates the problem of getting maximum freedom for the emergence of Dynamic Quality while prohibiting degeneracy from destroying the evolutionary gains of the past. (189) The whole thing, he says, is to obtain static and Dynamic Quality simultaneously. The challenge is to create a stable static situation where Dynamic Quality can flourish. Pirsig gives as an example Robert's Rules of Order, which captures the whole thing in two sentences: No minority has the right to block a majority from conducting the legal business of the organization. No majority has the right to prevent the minority from peacefully attempting to become a majority. (255)

This is easy in the abstract, more difficult in practice. Any static mechanism that is open to Dynamic Quality is also open to degeneracy. The mechanism by which a balanced society grows and does not degenerate is difficult, if not impossible, to define. (256) The really central problem in the static-Dynamic conflict of evolution is, how do you tell the saviors from the degenerates? Freedoms that save the saviors also save the degenerates. (256) But restrictions that stop the degenerates also stop the creative Dynamic forces of evolution. (256-57)

A new culture has emerged (the first in history) to believe that patterns of society must be subordinated to patterns of intellect. The one dominating question of our times has been, "Are the social patterns of our world going to run our intellectual life, or is our intellectual life going to run our social patterns?" And in that battle, the intellectual patterns have won. (304) Truth, knowledge, and beauty, all the ideals of mankind, are passed from generation and generation like a flaming torch, but that torch is static social pattern. (306)

Finally, Pirsig maintains that there are five codes of morals (345):

  • Inorganic-chaotic, essentially static patterns;
  • Biological-organic, essentially exploitative;
  • Social-biological, essentially coercive;
  • Intellectual-social, essentially struggle; and
  • Dynamic-static.

The last code, according to Pirsig, says that what is good in life isn't defined by society or intellect or biology. What's good in life is freedom from domination by any static pattern, but that freedom doesn't have to be obtained by the destruction of the patterns themselves. (345)

In the opening paragraphs of his chapter "On the Origin of Morality," Daniel C. Dennett assigned to Thomas Hobbes the Darwinian task of seeing "that there had to be a story to be told about how the state first came to be created, and how it brought with it something altogether new on the face of the earth: morality."

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