Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ethical stocks!!!

I read a somewhat bizarre news item on the front page of The Financial Times yesterday. Apparently an ethical equity index has been launched "in response to increasing demand by investors for so-called ethical stocks in the wake of the financial crisis". The group of 533 European companies consists of companies that derive their revenues solely "from sources approved 'according to the values and principles of the Christian religion'".

Among the companies in the index are BP, HSBC, Nestlé, and Royal Dutch Shell.

Making money, as I have argued before on this site, is closely related to greed and, as I have also argued, I have the strong suspicion that when the brain's greed system is in operation, those parts of the brain that regulate ethical conduct are de-activated. Perhaps the greater the amount of money to be made, the greater the deactivation of the system that regulates ethical behaviour.

Now let me say that such an experiment has not been reported yet, to my knowledge. But I strongly suspect - just by watching human behaviour (and there has been plenty to watch in the past year alone and, as I understand it, there is a spectacle going on right now) - my conjecture will turn out to be true.

Perhaps it is wise to stop pretending - and fooling ourselves and others - that making big deal money can be made entirely ethically. Perhaps we should put money (and the greed that commonly goes with it) into separate compartments.

Of course there are rich individuals who have behaved entirely ethically and in accordance with the principles of their religion.

But I have not heard of many very big companies that do so.

Why not admit that greed is incompatible with high ethical standards?


Jack Fuller said...

Or perhaps an aim of art is to hold together profit and moral action in our minds - in the way that beauty brings together sensual experience and abstract ideas in our brain.

Liben said...

Following this logic, very soon we are going to hear about highly ethical brothels.