The fact that the words ethics, ethical, and unethical appear nowhere in any of my books, essays, or speeches should give you a hint that ethics is not my concern. I hoped to underline this in my choice of “the craft that is in the air (but not flying)” as a metaphor for our civilization.

The aeronauts who built dysfunctional aircraft were not making unethical choices, they were just making unworkable choices. The point for me is NOT that the choices we’ve been making here for the past ten thousand years are unethical but that they’ve brought us to the brink of catastrophe.

What good would it do us if it were somehow proved that every single one of those choices was in fact completely ethical? Would that make it all okay? Of course not. Ethics may make a fine guide for personal betterment, but I’ve never seen personal betterment as our problem here (since humans managed to live here for millions of years without being personally better than we are).

Ethics are as useless a guide to achieving a sustainable human future as they were to achieving heavier-than-air flight.

ID: 497
posted: 28 Oct 2000
updated: 28 Oct 2000