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Effective Altruism and the Imaginary Hobbes

"At the core of the reasonable person’s ethical life is a recognition that others are like us and therefore, in some sense, their lives and their well-being matter as much as our own. Therefore the reasonable person cannot have self-esteem while ignoring the interests of others whose well-being she recognizes as being equally significant. The most solid basis for self-esteem is to live an ethical life, that is, a life in which one contributes to the greatest possible extent to making the world a better place.

The UK B Corporation

In 2009, I wrote to B Labs introducing our people-centered business model and the arguments made for putting social benefit before shareholder return:   

From: Jeff Mowatt <>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 18:00:48 +0000 (GMT)
To: <>
Subject: B Corps membership

I was interested enough to register on your site a while ago, but there’s little more that I can do now, it seems.

Trust in the social economy

It's been a while now since I wrote about the need for trust in a social stock exchange, pointing out the contradiction between the concept of inclusion and the practice which keeps others from participating.

The most recent example may be found in a new British Council initiative to support social enterprise overseas:

"The British Council will offer grants to as many as 9 selected UK based organisations to take part in the BIR programme in 2015-16.

Is it ethical to sell body parts from abortions?

In his widely viewed TED talk on ethics, Harvard's Michael Sandel raises the issue of markets and their limits in civil life. 

The Next Chapter of an empty rhetoric

The Next Chapter is a Huffington Post article describing a recent discussion about new economic models in New York hosted by Guardian Sustainable Business.

Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd professor of sociology and co-chair of The Committee on Global Thought from Colombia University, simply said:

"I don't know."

Social Enterprise is already a reactionary force

"Now we're going to reward businesses that do not make a profit if someone approves of their social mission,” Rush bellowed, in reaction to the rise of so-called “L3Cs” or “Low Profit Limited Liability Corporations. “This is designed to pervert capitalism."

Scotland, Social business and healthcare

In Scotland, there's a voluntary code for social enterprise which includes this interesting statememt:

"The aim of the code is to set a bench mark – that establishes clear blue water, between SE and particularly the private sector. This centres on the unequivocal affirmation of the defining characteristics – that SE’s don’t distribute dividends."

People over Profit

"What is the purpose of business?" a man asked  "Isn't it really about people?"

He asked it very publicly of the US President, Bill Clinton in 1996,

In his 1996 paper, he set out the case for a people-centered approach to economics with a challenge to Milton Friedman's assertion of shareholder primacy. Esssentially a business can put the interests of other people before shareholders if that's what's agreed at inception.

Sir Richard Branson, from business leader to follower

"The purpose of life is to bring forth goodness. Now, In this life" - Leo Tolstoy

The first inkling of being followed came at Davos 2009, when he spoke at the Ukrainian Lunch saying business should focus more on social problems:

"Business must achieve its goal - making profit. But at the same time it should increasingly focus on solving social problems."

Phillip Blond - The triumph of non-human value

"Manipulation of numbers, represented by currency/money, allows writing “new” money as needed.  There is no tangible asset, or anchor.  There are only numbers, managed by whomever might maneuver into position to do so.  Economics came to be based on numbers, rather than real human beings.


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