Human Responsibility

The Human Rights movements of the 20th century will evolve into the Human Responsibility movements of the 21st. Just as the moral masses rose to fight battles of freedom, representation, protection, and equality, new moral questions of responsibility will arise as paramount. We will be forced to confront and socially decide upon subjective and highly contested issues in the use of technologies, preservation of environments, and rules of trade and labor. Harold T. Shapiro *64 is an early hero in this movement, speaking to thousands:

In the 21st Century, scientists and engineers will continue to inform us regarding what we can do with our ever-expanding knowledge base, but it is our shared responsibility to decide what we should do. And deciding what we should do is the greatest responsibility we all bear as we move forward together.

It will be a moral call to arms. Factions will grow in much the same ways that they have around abortion questions. Large numbers of issues will arise, and be grouped by medical, moral, philosophical, religious, technical, and other similarities. Specialized factions will fight for ultimate personal freedom to act, at least upon themselves, without restraint. While others will fight for the protection of others, even to the great restraint of personal freedoms. And there will be a majority in between.

Communities will form, and governments will be organized around the constituents’ answers to these questions. Those countries that embrace the most freedoms, particularly for businesses, will have financial advantages over those that embrace the most protections of others. This imbalance will allow particular countries to benefit for decades at the detriment of the whole, as their own incentives are not aligned with the benefit of the whole, but instead with their own short term economic benefit.

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