By Dr Simon Longstaff
This is the first of what I hope to be many a blog that will be posted on www.ethics.org.au over the years to come. It is written at a time of evolution in St James Ethics Centre’s presence on the internet.
The immediate changes offer improved functionality – a renovation in the underlying structure of the site. Other developments are still to come and will refresh the look and feel of the site.
The fact that the ongoing improvement of the site has started with its underpinnings is, in itself, reflective of the Centre’s purpose – which is to help renew the foundations of society. A grand purpose? Not really. Many people will think it a matter of simple prudence to review and renew the foundations of any physical structure of significance. The same is true of social structures – the institutions, large and small, that are created and sustained by human beings.
While the foundations of buildings are made from bricks and mortar, the foundations of social structures are made from values and principles. Whether corporations, universities, courts, parliaments, whatever … their foundations are made from the stuff of ethics.
Like physical foundations, their social counterparts deserve to be reviewed and renewed from time to time. Even if the structure seems sound, it is sensible to be proactive in maintaining a solid base. For if the base degrades, then the risk is that the structure will tilt, crack or topple – wreaking havoc where it falls. So it pays to care about and for the ethical foundations of society.
The Centre’s purpose is to encourage and support this process. This website contains many examples of work done to strengthen society’s foundations. Each Ethics Counselling session, each Vincent Fairfax Fellow, each IQ2 Australia debate, each development in responsible business practice, each ethics consultancy … each piece of work is designed to strengthen foundations directly or to build the capacity of others to do this important work.
In the months ahead, this blog and this site will be part of that ongoing work.