Theologian: Global Economy Needs an Ethical Framework

A 2007 file photo of Swiss theologian Hans Kung. Kung delivered a presentation of his recently published manifesto "Global Economic Ethic" at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne.

A new economic framework built on ethics is the answer to preventing further financial crises said renowned Swiss theologian Hans Kung on Monday during a presentation at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne.

''Bankers accuse politicians, and politicians accuse bankers, and ordinary citizens see the failings of both. We have a responsibility to build an adequate financial structure in which ethics is not the icing on the cake,'' Kung, president of the Global Ethic Foundation said,

Citing content from his recently published manifesto entitled "Global Economic Ethic – Consequences for Global Businesses," Kung said that humanity flourishes only in a culture of respect for the individual, but that the common good has priority over individual interests. The theologian also noted that government must take an active role in combating corruption.

''Laws are not enough. You need the political will to fight corruption, greed and aggrandizement," Kung said. "But the political will is often weak because it is not accompanied by ethical will.''

Speaking alongside Kung was Dr. Dipak Jain, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management, who said that business schools are partly to blame for the promotion of greed and the ethical failings in the marketplace.

''Our students are focused on earning rather than learning," Jain said.

While noting that an emphasis on profits is necessary for sustainable capitalism, Jain said that social and environmental concerns must also become priorities for those working in the business world.

''Global prosperity equals profits plus people plus the planet,'' he said.

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