The Code for Global Ethics: Ten Humanist Principles Hardcover – Apr 27 2010
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"Dr. Tremblay offers not just armchair philosophizing, but solid, historical argument and proposals for integrating humanist philosophy into both our everyday lives, and our social institutions. Policy makers, and laypersons alike should heed Tremblay's account of humanist principles, for in them lies a path to greater peace, tolerance, and societal progress." --David Koepsell, JD, PhD, former executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, and assistant professor of ethics at the Delft University of Technology
"The Code for Global Ethics represents a valuable and indispensable guide through the complexity of modern life and moral issues facing us every day. It offers a natural and far superior alternative to traditional religious moralities." --Marian Hillar, MD, PhD, professor of philosophy/religious studies, and editor-in chief and founder of the Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism.
"The principles proposed by Dr. Tremblay are dignity and equality, respect for life, tolerance and openness, sharing, anti exploitation, reason, ecology, peace, democracy and education. -This is a timely book to read." --Daniel Baril, Canadian anthropologist and author.
"Tremblay's ten principles provide us with a rational jumping-off point toward a new society no longer exploited by the power elites of church, state, and business." --Victor J. Stenger, author of the New York Times bestseller, "God: The Failed Hypothesis"
About the Author
Rodrigue Tremblay (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) is a prominent Canadian-born economist with a PhD from Stanford University. He is a former Woodrow Wilson fellow and a Ford International Fellow. He is now professor emeritus at the University of Montreal, after having occupied the positions of full professor of economics at the University of Montreal, president of the North American Economics and Finance Association, president of the Canadian Economics Society, and advisor to numerous organizations. From 1976 to 1979, he was minister of Industry and Commerce in the Quebec government. He is presently vice-president of the International Association of French-speaking Economists. Professor Tremblay has written thirty books dealing with economics and finance, some also tackling moral and political issues.
Top Customer Reviews
Is there anything bad to say about this book? Not much. I for one would have preferred a bit less emphasis on religion and more on humanism itself, especially about what other humanists had to say about ethics and morality.
In any case, Dr. Paul Kurtz's preface is to the point since it spells out clearly what planetary humanism is all about. Of course, Dr. Tremblay's devastating critique of religious ethics in the introduction aptly sets the table in preparing the reader for an articulate presentation of the humanist basis for morality and ethics.
Dr. Tremblay lists ten fundamental components of humanist ethics. With the notable exception of rule #6 about religions and superstition, which I think do not necessarily go together, I am in general agreement.
The 18th century brought us the Enlightenment. Maybe, the 21st century will mark a comparable humanist moral revival and the adoption of a more humane approach to solving our global problems. That's what I learned from this well written and thoughtful book. All those interested in ethics will love this book. Recommended.
This book is about the humanist requirements for moral progress on a global level.
The author, Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay from the University of Montreal, is not your traditional humanist. While respectful of religion in general for its contributions to civilization in the past, he nevertheless has no truck with superstitions of all sorts, and today's organized religions, in particular. Tremblay presents a rational response to the unfounded claim that one has to be religious to act morally. Instead, he strongly argues that there is no need to believe in gods or deities to be good and act accordingly, rejecting both excessive selfishness and materialism.
In fact, the future of humankind would be best secured if we were to adopt a superior humanist code of ethics that is based on respect, tolerance, co-operation, reason, science, peace, democracy, education, sympathy, empathy, compassion, charity, and kindness to others, and less on rigid and absolutist religious dogmas and illusory promises of an afterlife. He argues, I think persuasively, that humanism can provide such a superior moral approach and a better way to solve humanity's global problems. Indeed, it is high time that we wake up around the world and view religion for what it really is, that is as much a source of hatred, intolerance and violence as a source of human morality.
'The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles' is an ambitious book and it shows a great talent for synthesis on the author's part. The book deals with the moral foundation of any society, irrespective of geography, ethnicity, nationality, race, sex or creed.Read more ›
During the evening of March 16, 2011, I presented a résumé to members of a secular humanist society in Calgary. During the evening of March 27, I did that again before a group of unitarians and humanists at the Unitarian Church of Calgary. That church is going to feature a discussion of the book at its regular Sunday morning service on April 3rd.
My two presentations appeared to be well received and they stimulated a lively discussion period following the presentation. A number of the members of the audience told me that they were going to obtain the book and read it in its entirety.
In my opinion, it is an excellent book and I recommend it to any person that wants to understand the global humanist approach to the grave moral and ethical problems that confront humanity at this time.
The Honourable Melvin E. Shannon Q.C.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Across the entire book are what I now call E to the 5th: Empathy, Ethics, Ecology, Education, and Evolution. The bottom line of the book is clear: abandon religions as selective (and generally exclusionary) arbiters of morality, each severely hypocritical in having one morality for insiders and another for "others" (infidels, shiksas, whatever the name, moral disengagement is the rule and genocide is often the result).
When addressing really important books, I read the notes, bibliography, and index first. The notes are a second book -- these are not normal cryptic notes, each note is a short exposition, and any reading of the book is incomplete with a reading of the notes. The bibliography is extraordinary, and my attention was immediately drawn to the authors honored with three or more books being cited: Karen Armstrong, Mario Bunge, Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, A.C. Graylink, Robert Ingersoll, Immanuel Kant, Hans Kung, Paul Kurtz, John Rawls, Peter Singer, Baruch SPinoza, E. O. Wilson, and Robert Wright. Among them Kurtz, Singer, and Wright are central. Roughly 1,000 books are listed by title in the bibliography.
I am an intelligence professional far removed from the traditional world of secrecy and totally focused on public intelligence in the public interest. I just finished sending a proposal to the Secretary General of the United Nations for creating the UN Open-Source Decision-Support Information Network (UNODIN) at the same time that that I have sent a proposal to Sir Richard Branson for the creation of a global commercial intelligence grid called "The Virgin Truth." Both can be found easily by searching for "21st Century Intelligence Core References 2.3" -- I mention this because I was absolutely not expecting the following, quoted from Paul Kurtz's Preface:
QUOTE (20): We need a realistic appraisal of the human condition and a resolute determination to take responsibility fgor our own destinies -- as far as we can -- in our own hands.
Exactly right. We need to restore the kind of intelligence with integrity that our indigenous native forebearers embodied in their "seventh generation" thinking that was one with nature.
I am surprised to learn in going through the book that the author is a PhD level economist, and having just reviewed a book that essentially concludes that all economists are sluts pandering to the wealthy, I am happy to say I know two that are not: the author, and Dr. Herman Daly, whose "true cost" or ecological economics is long overdue for a Nobel Prize (he has received the Right Living Award).
Generally speaking the author finds that religions are divisive and exclusive; permit state officials to eschew personal morality in the name of the state; separate man from nature and mind from body; impose the fiction of an eternal hell, a form of virtual religious terrorism (my words here); and generally treat women badly, Islam being the worst followed by the Catholics.
The economists emerges early on with a listing of the five things that kills economies:
01 Too many "free riders" consuming public goods
02 Monopolies and cartels
03 External costs not included in the price
04 Incomplete or asymmetric information advantages
05 Excessive concentration of wealth
The above is all about balance -- about transparency, truth, and trust. As one who has renounced the mendacity and inefficiencies of secret processes, and cataloged "information pathologies" I consider the integral connectivity that the author establishes between the truth and humanism to be the essence of the matter.
In Chapter 4 on "Sharing" the author ends by proposing a United Nations International Solidarity Organization (UNISON), which again shocks me, as I have just completed my newest paper, easily found online, "2012 Reflections on UN Intelligence 2.2 20 Dec 2012" (29 pages). What the author does in bring forth the Tobin Tax (I favor Dr. Edgar Feige's Automated Payment Transaction Tax), and suggest that all those billionaires -- over 1,000 of them, should pay a one percent international tax or donation, while tax free foundations with over a billion in managed assets should do so as well. Where the author and I meet -- and this is NOT something I was expecting when I chose this book as my first book in Epoch B -- is in seeing truthful information, shared information, true cost information, as the center of gravity for elevating the five billion poor.
QUOTE (79): Lying, cheating, and resorting to corruption and deception in order to amass riches and gain power at the expense of others are all examples of exploitation and are contrary to a humanist approach to life in society. Lying or deception of any kind , is inimical to humanist morality.
America, thy name is Griftopia. Well said. We have become a lying, cheating society in which no one anywhere is held accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors that are without question gross violations of the US Constitution (public officials) or public charters (corporations, the academy, the media, and non-governmental "griftopia lite").
Most of the chapters are short. The longest is Chapter Six, "No Superstition," is a rigorous dismantling and diminution of all religions that avow an afterlife while amassing persistent wealth (tax free of course).
In discussing democracy the author again slams religions, particularly in the USA where religions are not supposed to be participating in political campaign, but do, without losing their tax exempt status. He lists five dangers to democracy:
01 Concentration of wealth and wealth inequalities
02 Debt, inflation, and under-funded public goods
03 Sociopaths or psychopaths in power
04 State sponsored propaganda
05 Concentration of media ownership & campaign financing
The chapter on Education is one I was looking forward to, and it is all too short. It stresses the importance of the Internet and the role of religion as anti-thetical to knowledge. While the author over-states the rationality of science (I find most science to be very fragmented, very corrupt, and generally unfocused on true human need), he comes out with some strong thoughts on education.
QUOTE (193): The gift of learning, that is to say the opportunity to acquire information, knowledge, and wisdom, is the greatest of them all. That's why education, education, education, especially disciplined education, should be the fundamental priority of every society. It is the surest protector of liberty.
I will stop there, reiterating my observation that the Notes are a second book, and the 1,000 or so books listed in the bibliography are by themselves illuminating reading.
As I went through the book, I thought of books I have read and reviewed here at Amazon, and below I list the author's ten humanist principles followed by one book recommendation from me, none of the books I am recommending are in the author's own bibliography. As with this review, my Amazon review of each of the books below is summary in nature -- Cliff Notes for Smart People.
DIGNITY. All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents (Hardcover))
RESPECT. The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
TOLERANCE. The Leadership of Civilization Building: Administrative and civilization theory, Symbolic Dialogue, and Citizen Skills for the 21st Century
SHARING. Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition
NO DOMINATION. Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
NO SUPERSTITION. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
CONSERVATION. Ecological Economics, Second Edition: Principles and Applications
NO WAR. The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe
DEMOCRACY. Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics (Manifesto Series)
EDUCATION. Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
I am including above as contributed images a handful from my latest book. For me the take-aways are two: first, that the Golden Rule is still the most precious single guideline for humanist thinking and behavior; and second, that Will Durant nailed it in 1916: education is "root." It is not possible to create a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for all, without committing to the liberal and life-long education of every person and most particularly each of the five billion poor. That is actually the central thrust of my proposal to Sir Richard Branson -- if my one pager indeed gets to him, he is surrounded by 20th century green eyeshade folks that do not read books such as this one.
I have not done this book justice. It is a brilliant measured read, strongest against superstituion, lighter in other areas, but on balance, a superb gift, a superb self-improvement book, a superb assigned reading for any student at any age.
Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth & Trust
In "The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles", the author presents a humanist moral compass that is straight and worth following. This is done in three hundred pages of pedagogically clear prose.
Most humanists will greet such an accessible and jargon free presentation of the fundamental humanist principles at a time when humanist moral philosophy seems to be sorely needed. The book is not a book of philosophy proper, written for the specialist. It is rather a clearly written and easily readable demonstration for the nonprofessional reader that moral values are necessary for human survival in the long process of human evolution. That's what the author calls "the moral dimension" of things.
Tremblay makes clear that "humans are social animals, and human interaction is a requirement for survival," and that means acting reciprocally or better, empathically. Human morality is partly innate, partly a product of the long natural evolutionary process and partly learned. This is a distinction that the author clearly emphasizes when he writes, "human morality is both an intuitive phenomenon and a learned attribute of human behavior" (p. 25). Thus, the pedagogical tone that he adopts throughout.
The book contains the potentially more controversial and debatable demonstration, at least for some readers, that humanist values are better adapted to our time of global challenges than more sectarian religion-based values. --The author deals here with universal utilitarian morality as opposed to in-group theistic morality. Indeed, being a pragmatic economist, Tremblay follows David Hume in thinking that ethical systems must primarily be judged according to their results. As he writes in the Introduction: "Since our worldview affects how we interact with others, any moral code must be judged as to how its adherents treat other people and whether or not it improves people's lives. If the adherents treat others badly and their moral values reduce others' quality of life, it is a bad moral code; if the adherents treat others with dignity and respect and their actions improve the lives of the greatest number, it is a good code of ethics. This is the ultimate pragmatic test of reality and results." (p. 22)
Of course, I cannot agree more. A moral code must be a meaningful guide to action, before being esthetically, conceptually or intellectually attractive.
Tremblay is no utopist. He devotes a full chapter (chap. 11) to the applicability of moral rules in general and of humanist rules in particular.
In the real world, one rarely encounters absolute pure human good or absolute pure human evil. In reality, people have the capacity to be both good and evil. In fact, we can observe a spectrum of good behavior to bad behavior, following a sort of normal curve from the very good to the very bad. The trick is to avoid the very bad behavior with better morals, better knowledge and better institutions. --That's what the book outlines.
The CODE for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles (hardcover).
I've read many books about morality. Some are deadly dull, but this one stands out for its clarity and purpose. In "The Code for Global Ethics", economist Tremblay argues that while organized religions may have contributed to civilizing uneducated and superstitious peoples in the past, they are still prisoners of their group origin and are a major source of international strife and conflicts. That's why he thinks human ethics should be separated from religion. He explains how different organized religions can be seen as clubs or political parties that often rely on the powerful assistance of social conformity to gain political monopoly power in some societies. When that happens, various forms of theocratic rule replace democracy. That's because large organized religions have their own specific agenda and goals. But, that's the hic, their codes of ethics are usually very ambivalent, forbidding lying, plundering and killing in some circumstances, but authorizing it and glorifing it in other circumstances.
The book's message is straightforward: In this age of globalization and of global problems, and with the risk of global nuclear conflicts, humanity needs to move to a better code of global ethics; and that's the universal humanist code of ethics that the author develops out of ten fundamental humanist principles. This is the next step that humankind needs to take, and, the author argues, there is no need for organized religions to do that; rather, organized religions can be an insurmountable hindrance to such moral progress.
Most religions, indeed, are based on a fundamental moral contradiction: They are as much proponents of intolerance as tolerance, of hatred as love, and of war as peace. Especially the Abrahamic ones (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), these proselytizing religions still condemn to eternal hell those who happen to be outside their narrow ideological circles (the infidels), ...and that's the majority of people now living on this planet or who have lived in the past.
First and foremost, their morality is a morality for the "fidels", and is rarely fully extended to the others, the outsiders or the "infidels". Thus the basic moral ambivalence of very religious people toward "non-Judaists", "non-Christians" and "non-Islamics". Therefore, it is easy to understand why Tremblay, together with other humanist authors (Paul Kurtz, Victor J. Stenger, Michael Shermer, Stephen Pinker, Dan Barker, Austin Dacey, Darrel Ray, ...etc.) considers that religions are an important factor of divisiveness and that their moral codes are deficient and must be either improved or replaced.
As the author says, "most people understand that it is in [their] best interest to be moral. It is the surest way to foster individual and collective survival and to attain happiness for all. " (p. 30). But the notions of good and evil are complex, and even though a moral sense is innate in our genes, advanced morality has to be learned and practiced. In the end, as Tremblay reminds us, "moral principles are never substitutes for one's judgment and personal responsibility." (p. 63). Lesson learned.
For me, the high point of Tremblay's book is its serious warning about what could happen if we continue down the path we have been following for centuries. Indeed, Tremblay wonders aloud whether "humans are not the dinosaurs of the modern age, destined also to disappear one day from the surface of the Earth. Indeed, because of our neglect of the environment and because of our wars, we humans may become the dinosaurs of our era. The Earth can last without humans, but humans cannot survive without planet Earth." (p. 123). This is strong stuff.
The literary style is fluid, lucid and elegant. It's a very fine book, full of useful quotes, references and observations. I learned a lot reading it. It inspired me and reinforced me in my own thinking. I intend to give it as a gift to some relatives of mine with whom I like to discuss such things. I believe this could be the nonfiction book for 2010. I'm giving it two thumbs up and five stars.
In this even more ambitious and more recent book, the author applies his analysis to the world of ethics, particularly humanist ethics, on the global stage; he offers a new code of global ethics and challenges the paradigm of religious morality, that he judges incomplete, inadequate, even dangerous and counterproductive. The result is "The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles."
Its purpose is to acquaint readers with humanist ethics and how its most basic principles can be of assistance in solving some very contemporary personal and collective moral problems.
The book raised fundamental questions, such as: What is the best moral code in a free and open society? How can a code of ethics be truly global in an age of globalization? Is humanist ethics superior to religious ethics and, if so, why? Should superstitions in all forms still be followed as guides to thought and action? Is private charity enough in a world still mired in much poverty? Why do we still have destructive wars after everybody thought they had been outlawed?
The book has also a section about some applied ethical questions, such as the ethics of abortion, sexism, racism, euthanasia, death penalty, separation of church and state, religious superstition and wars of aggression, all issues that are timely and that can give rise to nice debates and discussions.
One does not need a background in philosophy to read the book. In fact, the book is clearly written and very accessible. The core of the book is made out of the ten basic humanist principles outlined by the author. Except for chaps 6 (superstitions) and 8 (wars), which appears to me to be unduly long, the other chapters are relatively short and the concepts and principles are presented in a clear and logical manner.
Tremblay is a practical moral ethicist. In that, he joins the selected club of philosophers who have argued and demonstrated that one does not need to be religious to be moral (see Socrates and Plato in ancient Greece, and Peter Singer and Paul Kurtz today). However, Tremblay goes one step further and argues that being too religious can lead to fundamental immorality in fostering exclusion, discrimination, racism, sexism, violence, and even persecution and torture. History and daily news reports seems to prove him right.
All in all, this is a very penetrating, thought-provoking and very enlightening, although somewhat controversial, book. Nobody can ignore this book.
There is a very comprehensive set of footnotes at the end of the book, although I would have preferred them to be at the bottom of each page for easiness of reading. The bibliography and recommanded reading is up-to-date and would be very useful to anyone reading or writing on the topic.
Come Xmas, I intend to give this book as a gift to a few relatives and friends whom I know would gain from the intellectual stimulus. Overall, I strongly recommend this book.