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The Code for Global Ethics: Ten Humanist Principles Hardcover – Apr 27 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 27 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616141727
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616141721
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #609,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.

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Format: Hardcover
By Philo Sophia, 'philosopher' (Vancouver, B.C., Canada)

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This review is for: The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles (Hardcover:Prometheus Books)

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read Dr.Rodrigue Tremblay's book - The Code for Global Ethics, Ten humanist principles.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2c906c0) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d4bdbc) out of 5 stars Humanist Manifesto Slams Religions, Foundation for Reflection Dec 22 2012
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the recommendation of Pierre Cloutier in Quebec, and very deliberately as the first book to read on 22 December 2012 as Epoch B begins (see graphic above with book cover).

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
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d56d5c) out of 5 stars Opinion about the book, The Code For Global Ethics May 13 2013
By Jan Czekajewski - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the book, "The Code for Global Ethics" quite interesting. It helped me to solidify my own opinions derived from my own observations of social behavior, economy and war in three countries, Poland under Hitler's and Stalin's yoke, Sweden under social democratic government, and over 40 years residence in the US, spanning from the time of the Vietnam War through recent experiences in "liberating" Iraq and Afghanistan. Book deals a lot with organized religion and depreciates its absolute value as a universal moral guidance. It deals mostly with three major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It is missing two other large religions, Buddhism and Hinduism. It is well-documented with 30 pages of references to other books and published papers. Being of similar frame of mind as the author, Rodrigue Tremblay, I found that his opinions confirm my own undocumented observations. Still I have a difference of opinion with an author who blames all misfortunes of war on religious zealotry. Two wars which I experienced as a small child were guided by deranged despots, Hitler and Stalin, who were nonreligious and who in fact proclaimed, that "religion constitutes opium for the masses" and should be eliminated. The idea of a better world order professed by author in "The Ten Principles for a Global Humanism" smacks of global ambitions to rearrange a world of hundreds of societies and nations into one guided by one "humanistic" culture. It is nothing new, as similar ideas had President Woodruff Wilson when creating the "League of Nations" after the First World War , which failed to prevent WW II. Or, the creation of the United Nations by Franklin D. Roosevelt which morphed into the battle ground of national politicians to justify, one more war under UN sanctions.The troubling question for me is who will be in charge of policing this super humanistic culture? Such a super-organization will be made by humans for humans and as such will tend to corrupt the humans in charge. There is saying that "power corrupts, but total power corrupts totally". The book is very much worth reading, by both people of faith and agnostics, but fortunately it falls short of describing how "The Ten Principles For Global Humanism" should be implemented. Not so long ago, hundred millions of people lost their lives, when the idea of communism, under the disguise of people's democracy and social justice was tested in Europe and Asia. Would we like that to be repeated under a different "humanistic" disguise? Obviously not.
Jan Czekajewski
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d56d08) out of 5 stars Positive and Generous Morals for the Future April 7 2010
By Gastongravel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be a fantastic breakthrough as a way to present humanist ethics. The book is both revealing and extremely informative. It is well written, clear, concise, and persuasive. The author thoroughly investigates what humanism is all about and how it presents a superior worldview and ethics to solve human problems on an increasingly shrinking planet. --Humanism is not a religion without a god. It is a positive, rational, practical, generous and ethical philosophy of life.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d587ec) out of 5 stars Covers a lot of ground on an issue that needs more attention Dec 10 2014
By Isaac Rounseville - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In answering the question of how to be a good human being, it can be very difficult to find a satisfying answer. People sometimes offer outdated notions that religious devotion or belief is a metric for one's "morality," and that without the existence of a God, our lives would be made meaningless and barbaric. Such an answer fails to address the current magnitudes of human pain and loss in our world, and the fact that structural violence or unfavorable economic circumstances tend to be the cause of human suffering, rather than lack of devotion to a deity.

The moral guidelines offered by religion -- that we should be "good" in order to avoid eternal damnation and receive heavenly reward -- also fail to grasp the true nature of human decency. In Mr. Tremblay's book, we learn that this view of "good" behavior derives from an ancient, tribal period where violence, sexual oppression, and dogma were necessary tools for mankind's survival in unforgiving tribal and feudal environments. Religions outlined (in excruciating detail) the hellfire and punishment that people would receive for violating old social norms that, while imperative for social cohesion in an unstable time, upheld exploitive, oppressive economic and sexual relations. Structural inequality along gender and economic lines was the logical outcome of this widespread moral outlook.

With the advent of modern science, technology, and politics comes the need for a new type of ethics. This new moral "code" needs to consider human needs, desires, and rights, not mere survival, as key to what is "good" behavior. It must strike firm ground in defining what behaviors and cultures should be accepted and nurtured, and which ones need to be separated and prohibited as inherently sexist, violent, exploitive, or racist. It must be clear and resounding in its humanistic goals but flexible enough to address complex moral issues and circumstances. This new code of ethics is so necessary today because of the continued existence of old, racist, backwards, and sexist codes of "morality" that still exist in both developed and undeveloped parts of our world.

Tremblay's book covers several areas of moral complexity (genetic patents, free markets, sexual promiscuity, reproductive rights, the role of the state in society, military intervention etc. etc.) by analyzing them through the lens of "humanism." Human beings, he says, need to be elevated to their rightful status as unique, dignified entities of a global community. Science, technology, and wealth must be harnessed to enhance human existence, rather than bended to the will of a privileged racial or economic elite.

He writes of the importance of sustainability, tolerance, sobriety, and equality in nurturing this healthy, vibrant, diverse human community. And he stresses the need to uphold these humanistic values in a world still fraught with superstition, dogmatism, racism, and structural violence. The book personally helped me in understanding the indispensability of each individual human being, and how humanity still has a great distance to go in improving the lives of billions of its members, whose suffering and mistreatment continues to go unnoticed. Hopefully Rodrigue Tremblay's call for moral clarity and action can be the first step of many in changing this global state of affairs.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d58684) out of 5 stars Humanist Ethics vs Religious Ethics April 7 2010
By A Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
*Starred Book Review:
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.