Money & Moral

Aug 5, 2019 by

Dr Bernd Villhauer focuses on questions about economics & ethics. In their lecture they discussed the relationship between freedom (quantitative – the amount of freedom that we could have and qualitative – the quality of the freedom that we have ) and the economy. They encouraged us to think about the new normal on human and business freedom and how we can live together peacefully.

Villhauer suggested that the following values can enable us to better connect peace and the economy: Truthfulness, Justice, Partnership between Men & Women, Peacefulness and  Sustainability

They argued that it is crucial that human beings realise their responsibility on this planet. Therefore, our ethics must guide our principles, relating to the right and wrong of our conduct and reflect on what we believe to be good or bad. Villhauer also recommended that we need to examine our new understanding of  freedom & pluralistic exchange: What do we consider as true freedom? What are others expecting? How can we develop an understanding of what are others and our own sense of freedom? Finally, how would such freedom be provided? Can money play an empowering role in that search for freedom?

The importance of money being a global force lies in the following: Money shapes our conduct, it’s  based on trust. Money means power and it is a key element for all economic purposes, money can also work as a transcultural force.

As money also creates injustice, dislocation, as well as interest rate, debt and  accumulation arising from existing economic systems could be problematic for some of the people in the society who could feel excluded. Therefore one needs to seek global economic changes towards sustainability, justice and   peace. Otherwise, it fosters cultural disruption. Villhauer recommended that anything can become money and projected that fintech, working time accounts, sharing economy, protectionist political markets, migration, low carbon emission and business creation would be things that are to come with a new normal. Such a new normal could be created through an alternative system with alternative currencies such as time currency with units by hours of service, carbon saving units etc. to encourage a more flexible exchange amongst people. I broadly share their points of view.

Villhauer then divided us into 4 groups to think about new ways for money: (1) No Money, (2) Let the Money decide, (3) Ecological Money, (4) Money for the Poor.

Through discussion between the group members, each group had created an structure for the new society and the conclusion was that there is no one-size-fits-all economy. In closing, Villhauer recommended that we could take the best solution and features of all the four groups evolved from the discussion, in order to achieve a better economy for our future which will serve the society based on a more ethical and moral foundation.

I agree that there really is no-one-size-fits-all model, and as human beings possess such diverse sets of values and beliefs, it is difficult to draw any set model. Instead, I could imagine that a society with the basis of treating others as we would like to be treated, and with self and mutual respect. Setting policies should happen according to the interest and benefits of the common good. Then, one may be able to create a better outcome with new policies.

I believe money is neutral and it is a tool which when in the hands of those who have the intention of creating mutual benefits would be able to create such an outcome. It is like a knife, if in the hands of a chef, delicious cuisine will be created, or if in the hands of a killer, blood would be drawn!

I truly believe that education about basic principles for the common good, guiding humans from a “Me” to “We”-attitude and about caring for others would be important to be instilled in the minds and hearts of the population. Then, it becomes possible to create a sustainable monetary system that would benefit all and a society that would allow human, animal and nature to reside in peace.


Written by: Bee Petch

Based on the lecture “Money and moral” held by Bernd Villhauer during AEMS 2019.